Salmond backs call for job cuts moratorium at the BBC

THE First Minister, Alex Salmond, has backed calls for a job cuts moratorium at the BBC.

On Monday, news services were disrupted by strike action by members of the National Union of Journalists, protesting against job cuts, the UK-wide action having begun in Scotland when a work-to-rule was launched against nine members of BBC Scotland staff facing compulsory redundancy.

The job cuts proposals are part of a wider, five-year programme of planned redundancies, to accommodate the budget implications of the TV licence fee being frozen three years ago, following an agreement between the BBC and the Westminster Government.

Jim Eadie MSP asked at First Minister’s Questions, at lunchtime: “Is it now time to heed the call of the National Union of Journalists for a six-month moratorium on these redundancies?”

And Salmond is quoted, replying: “I think that is a positive proposal.

“I see with dismay no fewer than nine out of a total of 30 compulsory redundancies across the BBC are to be in Scotland, and that should tell us that there is huge disquiet amongst staff, not just about their individual future but the collective ability of the BBC to serve Scotland.”

View Salmond speaking, here (from around the 24 minute mark).

He also expressed dismay that BBC politics programme, the Politics Show, is not transmitting this weekend – speculating it is because Westminster is in recess, even if Holyrood is not.

A BBC Scotland spokesperson said: “The BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies. We have made considerable progress in reducing the need for compulsory redundancies through volunteers, redeployment and cancelling vacant positions and we will continue with these efforts.

“There is nothing unusual about the Sunday Politics show being off air this Sunday. It is part of the normal run of this programme, and not as a consequence of any savings being made.”