Union agrees to meet bosses over planned BBC IT sell-off

Broadcast
union Bectu is meeting Siemens Business Services today to discuss the IT
services company’s plans to buy the BBC’s technology division, which employs
1,400 staff.

Siemens
was yesterday announced as the final preferred bidder in a race to take over
most of the BBC’s technical facilities including IT and broadcasting
engineering. The deal will give Siemens an exclusive 10-year contract for IT
services at the BBC worth more than £2bn.

Although
Bectu opposes the sell-off in principle, and is balloting its members at the
BBC over industrial action, the invitation to meet Siemens’ management was
accepted, so that union representatives could raise key concerns about staffing
issues.

Until
the final bidder’s identity was revealed, the BBC had refused to offer any
guarantees that staff involved in the sell-off would be protected against
losing their terms and conditions, and pension rights, Bectu said.

Now
that Siemens has been named as the preferred bidder, Bectu hopes to re-state a
demand that staff should be protected for a minimum of three years after the
sale, with no changes in terms and conditions, and a promise of secure
employment.

Bectu’s
ballot for industrial action over the sell-off closes on 9 July, followed on 14
July by the result of another ballot of IT staff at the BBC’s London news
operation, many of whom are threatened with an enforced transfer into Siemens.

The
BBC said it had been consulting with Bectu since November 2003 and would
continue to consult during this last phase of the process.

By
Daniel Thomas

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