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16/06/2004

BBC 'disappointed' by Bectu ballot treat on BBC Technology sale

The BBC has expressed "disappointment" that Bectu is threatening industrial action over the sale of BBC Technology.
Yesterday, the union had claimed that the remaining bidders Accenture and Siemens had been handed a restructuring plan, code named 'Project Leo', which is thought to involve hundreds of redundancies.
In response to the claims made by the union, the Corporation said: "The BBC is very disappointed to have received notification of an industrial action ballot from Bectu over the sale of BBC Technology. The BBC has been consulting openly and actively with the Union since last November on the procurement of the new technology services contract and sale of BBC Technology, and we still have nearly three months to continue the consultation process before completion this Autumn. This consultation has covered all areas of the pending deal, including the transfer of all of BBC Technology's employees to the new organisation".
The BBC said that through the sale it was aiming "to achieve value for money for the licence fee payer, business continuity, technology creativity and the best future prospects for the staff transferring," with the outsourcing of its technology requirements meaning "more money into programmes".
The BBC said: "We have made it very clear to staff and the Union all the way through this process that staff issues are a priority, and during the ongoing commercial negotiations these have remained at the top of the agenda.
"BBC Technology had an ongoing commitment to the BBC to deliver cost reductions and as part of its review of services had undertaken a study to review efficiencies, including job reductions, that would be required to deliver its next phase of price reductions to the BBC.
"By making BBC Technology a part of the procurement process it will offer much greater opportunities for staff who will be part of a global business. For obvious commercial reasons it is not in the interests of the staff or the BBC to reveal full details of these extensive negotiations before announcing the preferred supplier in early July."
The BBC described the sale of BBC Technology as "crucial" to the future of the BBC's creative output: "The technology costs in the BBC are simply too high, and not in line with market best. This procurement process and sale of BBC Technology ensures that the BBC continues to examine its overhead cost in the interests of the licence fee payer".
Consequently, the BBC remained "strongly committed to the sale of BBC Technology and procurement of a new technology service".
Though three companies were short listed from the eight that applied, one of these, US-owned CSC recently dropped out.
(SP)
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