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Union fights BBC Radio cuts

NUJThe National Union of Journalists has spoken out against expected cuts in BBC radio staff and has also announced it is to ballot for strike action over pay.

BBC director of radio, Helen Boaden, has said a major reorganisation of the Radio division and job cuts, “some probably compulsory”, is needed to fulfil the requirement to make a 20 per cent cut to the budget of the BBC’s national radio stations between 2012 and 2017.

The headline figure given by the BBC was 65, although the union says there are also around eight further job cuts proposed in Radio 1.

The union, which represents some of the corporation’s news journalists says, many of the 70-plus job cuts proposed in BBC radio could be saved if the corporation addressed executive pay.

The proposed reorganisation retains the same number of controller posts (all on annual salaries of more than £150,000) and includes the creation of at least two new management posts.

The plans include:

  • Radios 1/1Xtra, 2, 6Music and Asian Network to be merged into a Pop Music Hub (but will retain 2 separate controllers) with 10 job cuts, plus 8 more as a result of scope cuts in Radio 1.
  • Radios 3, 4 and 4 Extra to be merged into a speech and classical music hub (but will retain 2 separate controllers), with 9.4 job cuts.
  • Radio & Music Production will remain as a separate department (with its own controller) with 38 job cuts – about 15 per cent of the department.
  • Radio & Music Multiplatform, 7.4 job cuts.

NUJ national broadcast organiser, Sue Harris, said many of the people who will be affected by the changes were not those on high pay and pointed out that Radio is one of the most cost-effective parts of the BBC.

“What is expensive is paying the bloated salaries of the senior management who are paid vast sums for, in many cases, doing a bad job. We will be talking with Helen Boaden about these proposals. If posts are to go, we expect the staff to be redeployed; we will fight every threat of compulsory redundancy.”

The ballot for strike action over pay announced last night follows a meeting of union representatives at the corporation, where they condemned management’s recent offer of a 1% pay rise for staff, with no increase for those earning more than £50,000.

The union passed a motion that called for “a meaningful increase in the pay offer, with a settlement significantly more than RPI”.

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