Unions ballot to "shut down the BBC"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Trades unions are to ballot members on strike action following the announcement of 4,000 job cuts at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Formal notice of the strike ballot was sent to the public service broadcaster today by BECTU, the technicians' union, the manual workers' union Amicus and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), after the Director General, Mark Thompson failed to rule out compulsory redundancies.

The job cuts announced last month, amounting to approximately 20% of the BBC's staff, are part of £355 million of savings that the BBC are making before the review of the broadcaster's royal charter by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which fund the BBC through the license fee. Further production jobs are being moved into the private sector.

Luke Crawly of BECTU said that it was unrealistic to expect 100% programme quality from 80% of staff. Ballot papers will be sent in seven days, with the aim of shutting down live broadcasting of sports events including the Wimbledon Tennis tournament and the Football Association Cup final.

The BBC's rival ITV is experiencing strike action over wages at production companies London Weekend Television (LWT), Yorkshire TV, Granada and 3sixtymedia, that has led to prerecording of shows and has forced ITV to borrow studios at the BBC's Television Centre.