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BBC: Striking back at job cuts
MEMBERS OF the three main unions at the BBC - BECTU, NUJ and Amicus - were out on strike in force on 23 May.
Many programmes were forced off the air as workers protested at nearly 4,000 job cuts being proposed by director general Mark Thompson.
This 20% cut in staff comes on top of plans to sell off and outsource other parts of the BBC.
As Newsnight business reporter Paul Mason said:
"I think Mark Thompson has a great vision in terms of turning the BBC into a leading digital power but nobody can understand how he plans to do that with one in five fewer staff."
If the BBC refuse to negotiate, this 24-hour strike is to be followed by a 48-hour strike on 31 May and 1 June and a further 24-hour strike on 9 June.
Interview with John Davidson, Chair of NUJ at BBC TV Centre:
"PEOPLE ARE very angry and disappointed that they had to strike, because they wanted the BBC to talk and have meaningful discussions about their plans. Basically they have refused to. They've talked at us and not had any meaningful consultation or negotiation.
"That's left people very angry that management hasn't promised to stop compulsory redundancies. They are also angry at the World Service that they still don't know what is going to happen there. And people are irate that they're not promising to look after the terms and conditions of people - particularly Bectu members whose jobs are going to be outsourced or privatised.
"We are also angry that licence payers' money will be going to private companies. Unfortunately, parts of the BBC are already privatised. Now they want to privatise the broadcasting arm of the corporation.
"So it's going to be effectively just the British Corporation as it won't do any broadcasting! It will be the only broadcaster in the world in this position, which is frankly ridiculous.
"We have had hundreds of members joining the union in the past few days and weeks. It has been absolutely tremendous across the BBC with dozens of applications every day.
"After the current round of planed strikes, we have another strike day with the date still to be fixed. After that we will have another meeting of unions at the BBC if management still hasn't come to the negotiating table.
"We are hoping that it doesn't come to that and that they will sit down to serious discussions and negotiation. But at the moment there's no sign that BBC bosses are ready to talk."
Molly Cooper, (national executive member of the National Union of Journalists, personal capacity)
"THE TREMENDOUS strike action taken by trade union members in the BBC clearly shows members are prepared to take a stand against the job cuts. Many of the strikers out on the picket lines were taking part in their first ever industrial action.
"Unions need to build on this mood for action. If the BBC aren't prepared to negotiate over the cuts, plans must be made to prepare for the two further strike days on 31 May and 1 June.
"Trade union members I spoke to on picket lines at TV Centre and White City in London saw clearly that, in order to defend jobs in the BBC, the trade unions need a plan of strike action to defend every job and make it clear they won't accept any worsening of terms and conditions.
"Meetings must now be organised in every BBC workplace to bring together the best activists. Many of them have been energised by their first taste of strike action.
"These meetings should discuss plans for action and figure out a strategy to prevent managers from running a reduced service. The meetings should also make plans which affect the long-term plans of the BBC. In particular we need to hit them in the services where they make their profits."
In The Socialist 26 May 2005: