In My Opinion: Paul Holleran: From today’s strike action at BBC Scotland

MAKING placards on a Friday afternoon isn’t an usual pastime for NUJ staff, but it was all part of the preparation for one of the most important strikes in our recent history.

And today we’ve begun protesting as colleagues throughout the UK strike against job cuts in various BBC departments, including compulsory ones at BBC Scotland.

We’ve been at BBC Scotland’s HQ in Glasgow since five this morning.

For us in Glasgow, the dispute is all about fighting for jobs and the future of quality broadcasting at BBC Scotland. Nine individuals face being made compulsorily redundant at the end of next month, as part of five years of cuts to accommodate the freezing-the-TV-licence-fee deal struck between the BBC and the Westminster government three years ago.

Chapel members across BBC Scotland believe there has been targeting in a flawed selection process. Reducing staffing levels in the Highlands and Aberdeen does not make sense, while the decision to get rid of specialist reporters in education, business and politics has shocked many people, including many politicians at Holyrood and Westminster.

The joint unions (NUJ and BECTU) have constantly argued for a moratorium on the compulsory redundancies until after the independence referendum and Commonwealth Games next year, but to no avail.

Despite union officials joining management on a local redeployment team ,there has been little success.

Indeed, last week we were astonished and angered to learn of research posts, based in Glasgow, being advertised externally even though most of those at risk could walk into these jobs and ‘hit the ground running’.

To add fuel the flames we then saw an invitation from senior managers to selected staff, to a training course, ‘journalism for non-journalists’, to be run on the 12th of next month at BBC Scotland’s HQ at Pacific Quay.

Along with two other senior full-time NUJ officials, I met with a team from BBC Corporate Management on Wednesday and I’d say they were visibly shocked at what they heard emanating from Scotland. Elsewhere in the UK, it appears there is more appetite to redeploy staff at risk.

The UK-wide dispute is not just about the threat of job losses in Scotland, but Scotland was where it began, initially with a work-to-rule. I’d say London management must be none too delighted with their Scots counterparts.

This dispute is about saving people’s jobs, it is also about standing up for journalism and fighting for a future of quality broadcasting.

Ultimately, it may also be about how BBC Scotland is run and by whom.

Paul Holleran is the Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists.