The long haul

The BBC is setting itself up for the long haul, hoping that the strikes will eventually lose momentum.

Mark Thompson’s letter today, and Lucy Adams’ appearance on the Today programme both rely on the argument that because they’ve made a deal with the other unions they can’t now re-open negotiations. What nonsense! The other unions very reluctantly voted to accept the deal – their members would be only too happy to see the issue re-opened if it would lead to a better deal.

The NUJ’s case is simple and powerful: wait until we know the full size of the deficit before any decisions are taken about how it should be plugged. That’s a reasonable, sensible, moderate demand. The BBC wants to force us to make a decision before the full facts are known because it fears that its negotiating position will be substantially weakened when the true size of the deficit is revealed.

It’s now critical that the next strike is solid. Mark Thompson needs to know that our resolve more than matches his own. He may not want to back down, but there are people at the top of the BBC who could force his hand if the dispute drags on. Inflicting week after week of disrupted services on the audience when all the union is asking for is that a decision is delayed until the full facts are known will be a harder and harder position to sustain.

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