Major unions of BBC workers say they’ll take a strike vote April 4 if management cuts jobs as threatened, BBC News reported. Unions asked for negotiations during a three-month moratorium on cutbacks, no layoffs and pay guarantees for workers whose jobs are being outsourced. BBC managers “have decided to beat themselves up before the government does so,” said Gerry Morrissey, a leader of BECTU, a major union.
(BECTU meanwhile said production staffers at the commercial network ITV voted this week to walk out after Easter, rejecting ITV’s offer of a 3.3 percent pay raise.)
Director General Mark Thompson aims to save 355 million pounds to reinvest in programming, especially drama, news coverage, regional broadcasts and on-demand news services. The public-service portion of the BBC staff would shrink by a fifth, dropping 3,780 positions altogether. These include 2,050 production jobs announced Monday and 1,730 nonproduction jobs announced in March. Nearly half of nonproduction Professional Services positions are to go.
In a December lecture, Thompson laid out the BBC’s plans to move more work out of London, reduce bureaucracy, open an additional quarter of production to competition between in-house and indie producers (a quarter is already guaranteed to indies) and help build a Digital Britain with greater access to BBC archives. But he did not stint in expressing hope for what BBC will continue to mean: “Despite its eccentricities and failings, it remains one of the greatest — some might say the greatest — force for cultural good in the world.”