By Lynn Malone
BBC Scotland bosses have bowed to union pressure and lifted an “immediate” threat of redundancy from an NUJ member after senior level talks took place in Glasgow yesterday.
NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet was flown in from London to negotiate along with NUJ Scottish organiser, Paul Holleran, and BBC director, Ken MacQuarrie, before the compulsory redundancy threat was lifted.
Despite the move by management, the NUJ has insisted it will go ahead with a ballot on industrial action at BBC Scotland which was planned to protect the job of the staff member facing redundancy.
Ballot papers have been issued to members and a union spokesperson said: “Given our experience of promises made by HR management in the recent past, we’ll continue with our ballot as planned.
“With the machinery of the ballot in place, we can guard against any surprise revision of the agreement made and also have the tools ready to pick up again should there still be no result by the end of the review.”
“BBC Scotland got away with two compulsory redundancies earlier in the year and now they’re trying to get rid of another one of our members.”
Earlier this year, Newsnet Scotland reported how questions were being asked over the way BBC bosses are divvying up an extra £5m set aside to fund coverage of next year’s independence referendum. Bemused union bosses are also posing questions as to why experienced staff are being targeted at this historic period whilst inexperienced trainees are being recruited.
Mr Holleran is adamant that the union will take all the necessary steps to protect the jobs of their members.
“The BBC has made £5m available to create fifty jobs so the union are asking why this person is still at risk of redundancy when fifty new jobs have been created. Why, despite this cash injection is the BBC hell bent on the policy of compulsory redundancy rather than redeploying staff?
“This is at a time when BBC Scotland has just been given £5m to fund Commonwealth games coverage and the Scottish independence referendum.
“That will create fifty jobs, yet BBC Scotland still wanted to make this individual redundant in a few weeks’ time. There’s no logic attached to that.” He said.
The NUJ’s Scottish organiser has promised the union will take industrial and political action to protect its members – and to protect the industry. In an indication of the strength of feeling amongst his Scottish members, the official pledged to fight the redundancies at BBC Scotland even without backing from colleagues from other parts of the UK.
He said: “The NUJ in Scotland are prepared to take industrial action against the BBC – without waiting for support from the rest of the UK.”
According to Union officials the BBC appears to be re-deploying people throughout the rest of the UK but not in Scotland. They claim the problem lies with the management in Scotland.
“We’re involved in talks at the highest level. The NUJ in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee are prepared to take action to protect one of their members. Why is the BBC in Scotland not re-deploying this person; because that is what’s happening elsewhere in the UK?
“There is a threat of industrial action and that’s why the top people in the union have been flown in to Scotland. To try and save a job and stop industrial action.
“It’s been pressure from NUJ members and the unified front presented by us and the union as a whole that has moved the management on this, so we can be proud that we stood our ground and achieved agreement on what was a perfectly reasonable and constructive position.”
Mr Holleran says the results of the ballot should be known at the beginning of October.