BBC World Service

BBC staff are striking as more than 100 people risk redundancy at the BBC World Service

The National Union of Journalists has accused BBC management of avoiding talks ahead of strike action due to take place tomorrow.

In a report the NUJ claimed BBC senior management had "shown no real interest in negotiations" as thousands of journalists were said to be preparing to take industrial action from midnight tonight in a dispute over redundancies.

According to the union, more than 100 people are at risk of compulsory redundancy at the BBC World Service alone, with staff in BBC Monitoring, BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC 4, BBC Sport and TV Current Affairs also potentially at risk.

Both the World Service and BBC Monitoring suffered cuts to government grants following the comprehensive spending review, with the costs of both to be absorbed by the BBC licence fee from 2013/4.

"Union representatives have tried hard to resolve this serious dispute through negotiation," NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in the release.

"We have even agreed to use the ACAS conciliation service to try to find a way forward. But BBC senior management has shown no real interest in negotiations."

The union claimed its members are concerned the lack of talks could indicate planned further redundancies.

Stanistreet also claims management had refused an offer to extend the leaving dates of those immediately affected by redundancy in order to allow talks to take place.

The BBC had earlier issued a statement on its disappointment at the planned strikes.

"Industrial action will not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory redundancies, following significant cuts to the central Government grants that support the World Service and BBC Monitoring.

"We will continue with our efforts to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies, however, the number of posts that we are having to close means that unfortunately it is likely to be impossible for us to avoid some compulsory redundancies."

Update: On Thursday afternoon Lucy Adams, director, business operations sent an email to staff explaining the current situation.

The email said: "We have met with the NUJ many times since last week and I can assure you we will carry on trying to do all we can to keep to an absolute minimum the number of staff facing compulsory redundancy.

"The vast majority of staff whose posts have been closed have been redeployed or are taking voluntary redundancy. We are still working with the remaining staff to help them in any way we can.

"It is always a great regret when we are unable to retain people who have served the BBC so well.

"However, following the significant cuts in the central government grants for the World Service and BBC Monitoring, we cannot fund these jobs, nor can we give the assurance the NUJ wants - that there will be zero compulsory redundancies.

"Some of you have asked about the extra funding announced last month by the BBC and the Foreign Office for the World Service and whether this could help. Unfortunately it is targeted at certain services and is not enough to allow us to avoid having to cut posts.

"We don’t have any other options open to us and whilst tomorrow’s strike may take some output off air or force us to cut the length of our news bulletins, it won’t provide extra money for these services.

"Whilst the decision to cross a picket line is a personal one, I hope you will recognise that we are not in a position to give the absolute guarantee that the NUJ wants and that striking risks damaging our relationship with our audiences."

This article was updated at 9.30am on Friday 15 July.

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