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15/06/2004

Bectu claim BBC Technology bidders handed 'jobs hit list'

According to Bectu, both companies left in the race to buy BBC Technology have been shown a secret plan for redundancies.
Code-named 'Project Leo', the plan was drawn up last year by managers in BBC Technology desperate to meet targets for price cuts - and it is feared that the plan could involve hundreds of job cuts.
Although apparently shelved after the BBC announced that it was putting BBC Technology up for sale, Bectu officials say full details of the redundancy plan have been given to bidders Accenture and Siemens. The third bid contender, US-owned CSC, dropped out of the bidding on June 10 declaring that it would not proceeding with the bid "in the interests of both parties".
At a meeting on June 14, senior executives told the union that Project Leo, which was "too upsetting" to reveal to the company's 1,400 staff, had been freely handed over to BBC Technology's would-be purchasers.
Although union negotiators were not told in detail what the plan contained, Bectu believe that BBC Technology's prospective owners have a job-by-job 'hit list' of redundancies needed to meet savings targets.
BECTU official Luke Crawley said: "We always knew there was a risk of staff being fired once the sale went through, but it's astonishing that the current management are not just making the bullets, but loading them into the new employer's gun."
Since the sale of BBC Technology was announced last November, BECTU has warned that job cuts would be "inevitable" once the company was taken over. One of the main motives for the sell-off was the BBC's aim to save £20 to 30 million-a-year on technology costs - a target that the union said could be achieved only through redundancies in the company.
In early discussions about the sale, BBC management argued that if job cuts were needed, BBC Technology staff would be better off working for a large IT company with greater opportunities of redeployment, rather than the BBC itself.
The union has been seeking talks in a bid to prevent the sale of BBC Technology by achieving savings in-house - even if redundancies are necessary. These talks were meant to have commenced on June 14, but were suspended when management demanded that all union representatives present should sign an NDA to keep the plan secret.
Bectu has already given notice of plans to run an industrial action ballot among its members in BBC Technology, citing insufficient time allowed for negotiations about staff terms and conditions.
The union is also protesting management's refusal to give cast-iron guarantees about job security, pensions, and pay, if the sale goes through.
The BBC Technology contract to is valued at £2 billion over the ten-year period.
(SP)
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