THE BBC is facing a fresh threat of strikes in a row with journalists and technical staff over job losses.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Bectu are to be balloted for industrial action after the corporation announced plans to axe 415 posts to save £48 million a year by 2016/17, although the cuts will be offset by some new roles.
The NUJ called off a strike over pay planned to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games last week, but the union warned that action over jobs could hit coverage of the Scottish referendum, Last Night Of The Proms and the party political conferences.
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet, said: “The need to make cuts is the legacy of what everyone now accepts is the disastrous deal by former director general, Mark Thompson, to freeze the licence fee until 2017.
“The unions have put forward plans which make them fairer and will prevent many talented, dedicated staff from being shown the door, and stopping public money being wasted on needless redundancies. Hiring from outside at the same time as making long-serving staff redundant is beyond stupid.
“Not allowing those who wish to leave to go, freeing up roles for positions being made redundant, is bad management. Creating new roles for managers at the same time as axing jobs for journalists and programme-makers shows the BBC has its priorities all wrong.”
Bectu’s assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said: “When there is a real chance of compulsory redundancies, it is unacceptable that any jobs in News and the World Service should be filled from outside the corporation.
“Our members in BBC News and the World Service need to be convinced by management that they will not be denied genuine redeployment opportunities. BBC Radio has had a recruitment freeze for several months so there is no reason why BBC News and the World Service cannot introduce one right away.
“Bectu members will be willing to take strike action to make sure everything is done by the BBC to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that the unions have chosen to ballot their members at this time. Wherever possible we aim to minimise the impact of these changes through redeployment and retraining, but saving £48m a year while investing in digital and original journalism and improving our high quality news service is a difficult challenge.”