Unions slam BBC job cuts

Job cuts

Trade unions have slammed the BBC's decision to cut up to 360 jobs in its online division, claiming it could "seriously damage" the organisation's quality of service.

Yesterday the BBC confirmed the budget for BBC Online would be slashed by 34 million, leading to multiple job losses, the closure of hundreds of websites and reducing specifically designed content to automatic feeds.

Both the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) released statements questioning whether the BBC could keep up its quality with such significant cuts to websites and future online strategies.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary for the NUJ, said: "The cuts in jobs and online content will seriously damage a service which has won widespread public support and is the envy of commercial competitors. The BBC proposals fly in the face of public support for the online service."

He added: "The attack on BBC jobs and online services shows the BBC's contempt for hard working staff. It makes no sense to cut back the BBC website as increasing numbers of people rely on the internet."

BECTA's statement was more subdued and claimed the cuts were more likely to affect 200 staff rather than 360 when unfilled vacancies and contract staff were taken into account.

However, its supervisory official, Helen Ryan, urged staff to join the union and try to make their voices heard during the re-organisation.

"Whilst we expect the BBC to respond positively to our concerns that absolutely every effort should be made to avoid compulsory redundancies, the fact that several departments are affected, and to different degrees, means that staff will need to work with their union to get the best outcomes from this reorganisation," she said.

The director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, called BBC Online "a huge success" yesterday but added: "Our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation."

BECTA is set to have formal talks with the management of the BBC but wants to talk to its members before entering any negotiations.

The NUJ, which recently led strikes against pay cuts at the BBC, may again take the route of industrial action.

"The NUJ will not stand by idly if members are forced out of their jobs," concluded Dear.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.