The latest round of job losses announced today (July 15) by the BBC in response to the coronavirus pandemic has been deplored by Unite.
The BBC said that increased financial pressure, as a result of Covid-19, means the number of job losses in BBC News will rise to about 520, which is 70 more than the 450 originally announced in January, and will include senior management posts.
Unite said that consultations with the BBC’s unions will begin shortly and the corporation is seeking voluntary redundancies from the news division.
Unite lead officer for the BBC Mike Eatwell said, “This was expected, but nonetheless a disappointing reaction to the Covid-19 crisis. We deplore these job losses under the guise of so-called ‘modernisation’.
“Employers across many sectors are using the crisis to accelerate the use of automated systems and displace highly skilled workers.
“We are concerned that, unlike a lot of products and services, it is not possible to recall broadcasts when the unexpected happens on ‘live’ TV. Human labour can adapt speedily, while automated systems are not programmed to improvise,” he added.
“The BBC is basing its transition programme on viewing statistics harvested throughout the lockdown period. The significant increase in younger viewers in the last few months can be explained by the fact that they could not go out and were just as curious as the rest of us when the lockdown would end.
“It very much remains to be seen if these younger viewers stick with the BBC as society opens up, while traditional audiences may find the new formats that are being touted by the BBC are less appealing to them,” Eatwell continued.
“As ever, the health & safety of the employees are paramount and staff cuts can mean greater risks, if not introduced properly. Unite workplace reps will be concentrating on this in the weeks ahead.”
By Shaun Noble