Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/387/4385
Stop the BBC jobs slaughter
Action to defend jobs and working conditions
BBC DIRECTOR-GENERAL Mark Thompson's announcement of 3,780 job cuts is a fundamental attack on the trade union rights, pay and conditions of BBC journalists and staff.
Molly Cooper, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) national executive, personal capacity
It is claimed the job cuts are being carried out in the name of efficiency, to cut waste and bureaucracy. But many services have already been cut to the bone, with journalists working longer and longer hours in unsafe conditions, for no extra pay.
Job cuts are also 'justified' by promises of investment in digital services. But you don't invest in new services by massively cutting your workforce.
The money exists to fund the BBC, just like the money exists to fund all public services. But it is the drive to satisfy commercial interests that is driving Mark Thompson and media bosses towards these job cuts - encouraged by the government's neo-liberal agenda for greater privatisation of public services.
Thompson and the government intend to break-up the BBC's role as a public service broadcaster. They want to introduce competition and market forces, drive down the profile of services funded by the licence fee, and sell off juicy departments to commercial providers to run for profit.
If the job cuts are allowed to go ahead, this will give BBC management a green light to take a sledge hammer to the trade union agreements, working conditions and pay levels of journalists who will be left behind to pick up the pieces.
We have to fight to defend every job but also we need to demand that good quality journalism means well-paid journalists delivering it.
Where departments are not facing job cuts, but working conditions are poor, we have to argue that taking part in action to fight the cuts is not just about maintaining the status quo. We should demand well-funded public service broadcasting, with decent pay for journalists, with trade union agreements recognised and observed by management, covering working hours, night pay and benefits, health and safety, and bullying and harassment.
Unions have correctly given BBC bosses a deadline to confirm there will be no compulsory redundancies. But the unions need to show that they are prepared to follow the militant example of other public-sector unions, who threatened to take co-ordinated industrial action in defence of pension rights and forced the government to back down, should the BBC go ahead with its plans.
The unions - especially the NUJ - need to prepare the way for at least a one-day warning strike throughout the BBC, to be followed up with further action if the BBC bosses don't back down. This would show managers that every job will be defended and that BBC workers won't accept any worsening of terms and conditions.
In The Socialist 7 April 2005: