Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/391/4436
Strike ballot at the BBC
TRADE UNIONS at the BBC are balloting for strike action after Director General Mark Thompson refused to guarantee there will be no compulsory redundancies following the corporation's recent announcement of over 3,000 job cuts.
Luke Crawley, lead negotiator for BECTU, the broadcasting union at the BBC, spoke to the socialist about why the three main unions - BECTU, NUJ and Amicus - are preparing to take action:
"Negotiations with the BBC have broken down now. Members are outraged at what's happened here because they see the changes by Mark Thompson are catastrophic. The 20% cut in staff is the most serious and damaging cuts in the BBC since it came into existence in 1922.
"They are going to have the effect of selling several significant parts of the company, Broadcast Limited and Resources Limited; also, outsourcing very large numbers of staff in different sections. It seems the only reason for this is to reduce the headcount.
"We're running an industrial action ballot of all unions across the corporation and we are having a serious of union meetings across the country, which have been very well-attended. The response in all the meetings has been very positive and I am confident there is going to be a very big turnout in the ballot and a very big 'yes' vote for action.
"We get the ballot results on 11 May and will be meeting the day after where the joint unions will decide what form the strike action will take.
"The likely form of industrial action will be a 12 or 24-hour stoppage first. That has yet to be decided by the joint unions but the intention will be to take all our members out across the entire corporation for a sustained period to make them understand how angry people are at the stupidity of these changes."
Socialist Party members in the NUJ have produced a special bulletin outlining a fighting strategy to defend jobs and working conditions in the BBC. It calls for at least a one-day warning strike throughout the BBC to be followed up with further action if BBC bosses don't back down.
It also calls on the NUJ to deliver on the decision taken at its national conference in April this year to call a one-day conference of union members to discuss a strategy to defend public-sector broadcasting.
In The Socialist 6 May 2005: