The dispute at the BBC over 3,800 job cuts is at a crucial stage. Union leaders from Bectu, the NUJ and Amicus unions met the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, on Wednesday of last week.
He promised no compulsory redundancies before July 2006, concessions on the privatisation of BBC Resources and BBC Broadcast and divisional level negotiations on the scale of cuts.
In return he wanted to allow a trawl of staff for voluntary redundancies. The concessions came after a highly successful strike on 23 May. There are big worries among many staff about what accepting the deal would mean.
Bectu, the biggest BBC union, is planning a consultative ballot of its members on the deal. Reps from the NUJ journalists’ union were set to meet on Wednesday of this week to discuss their next move in the dispute.
Tim Malone, a Bectu rep at News Interactive, told Socialist Worker, “The deal is very weak. It does not rule out compulsory redundancies. It says nothing can be done about staff leaving and not being replaced, leaving others to work harder.
“People are saying we could have carried on. The unions didn’t have to call off strikes without management stating that there would be no compulsory redundancies.”
Pete Murray, the deputy father of the NUJ chapel (union branch) at BBC Scotland, said, “I think the NUJ reps meeting this week will accept the structure and timetable for negotiations but will also make the decision that if there are compulsory redundancies we will be going back to strikes.
“We have won a lot but not enough — certainly not enough to call off the action. Mark Thompson is still talking about 3,780 job losses.
“In Scotland we are in a very strong position as we had 90 percent of staff out on strike. If we can win concessions in these places we can concentrate on other areas where there is going to be a big fight. Many of the reps are talking about this.
“At our chapel meeting in Glasgow on Friday last week people were talking about working to rule if we don’t get anything. There is a strong mood and no suggestion of giving up.”