20/10/2011

Unions Slam BBC Boss's Belfast Remarks

Both the journalist and the media and entertainment unions have taken issue with remarks made to BBC Belfast staff by the corportation's Director General Mark Thompson.

Speaking at a meeting of BBC staff in Belfast, Mark Thompson is reported to have told staff facing possible redundancy: "If you're really that unhappy, if you think that you can't do your best work here then leave – no one is forcing you to stay."

BECTU General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey said: "This is a contemptuous remark, and it shows how out of touch the DG is with the real concerns of BECTU members.

"The Director General needs to understand that BBC staff are committed to preserving the quality and integrity of BBC output and see his proposals as putting all of that at risk.

"Staff are unhappy about these proposals but union members have no intention of leaving and we will take strike action to protect the BBC from management vandalism," he said.
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BECTU will campaign for a real consultation around the BBC's 'Delivering Quality First' proposals, he added, noting that the union has already reacted to the way that the BBC's protestations that 'it is willing to listen to staff concerns' about quality are being undermined by the presentation of many cuts as a 'fait accompli'.

This "outburst from Thompson is the latest piece of evidence of this happening", the union boss has claimed.

Robust Exchange

However, a statement from the BBC later said the comment was made in the course of "a forthright debate with a robust exchange of views but useful for all involved" after Mr Thompson was also heavily criticised by the National Union of Journalist's General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

She accused him of "complete and utter contempt" for staff at the broadcaster.

"Mark Thompson showed his complete and utter contempt for his staff today. It shows just how little he values all the hardworking, loyal and talented staff who are the lifeblood of the BBC's work," she said.

"It's BBC staff who are standing up for quality journalism and for the future of the Corporation they are passionate about serving.

"For Mark Thompson to turn his ire on our members, at a time when the BBC is under unprecedented attack and needs strong leadership, calls into question his own position.

"Perhaps it's about time he moved on - after all, no-one's forcing him to stay."

(BMcN/BMcC)

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