BBC staff threaten strike over job cuts in newsroom

BBC staff threaten strike over job cuts in newsroom

The BBC is facing a fresh threat of industrial action after announcing plans to axe 415 posts to save £48m.

The cuts will be offset by around 195 new roles, meaning a net reduction of 220 jobs.

James Harding, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, gave details of the cuts to a staff meeting in London, saying: “Taking nearly £50m out of a well-run organisation that provides high quality news services that are trusted, relied upon and used by millions of people is an extremely difficult undertaking.

“The challenge is how to make BBC News even better, despite having less money.”

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), attacked the announcement.

She said: “They plan to get rid of hundreds of staff – using licence fee-payers’ money to cover the redundancy pay-outs – and then immediately hire in a load more. You couldn’t make it up.”

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the technicians’ union Bectu, said he understood the posts would go before any of the new jobs were filled.

He warned of industrial action if the BBC went ahead with cutting the jobs first.

Journalists and technicians are already going on strike for 12 hours next Wednesday, to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, in a row over pay.

Mr Harding said: ``We are living through a period of extraordinary change in news media. BBC News led the way first in radio, then in television and then online. Now, digital technologies offer us the opportunity to lead a fourth revolution in news.

“So, as well as setting out our savings plan this morning, we are also announcing proposals to restructure news and target investments in our future - in the digital transformation of BBC News, in our own original and distinctive journalism, in making this a better place to work."

There will 79 post closures in the newsroom, saving more than £11 million, and around 53 cuts in newsgathering, saving £6.1 million.

The BBC added there will be two posts lost in political programmes amongst production staff, and 22 in programmes for 2015/16, with a further five the following year.

Ms Stanistreet added: “These cuts will further undermine the ability of journalists to deliver quality content.

“The way in which the BBC wants to carry out the redundancies is the latest move from a management whose approach to recruitment is to grab a coffee with their pals and find them a berth without so much as an interview, doling out jobs with salaries that are way in excess of the normal rates.”

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