BBC Lay Reps blog

Archive for BBC English Regions

English Regions Local Liaison Meeting: Plymouth, 09/05/07

BBC South West is being upgraded to Video Server working.

Currently staff are being trained. This is putting a train on the staff and resources, since staffing levels are paired to the bone following the Value for Money cut backs.

Members had complained that meal breaks were being shortened to as little as 15mins in some cases in order to allow the carrying out of normal duties as well as training. Management undertook to look into the issue and try and tweak shift times etc to avoid this problem continuing.

The Unions noted that it will be necessary to monitor and review the finish times of members working the late shift. In other regions, when the server has been introduced, some members have finished their shifts very late (after midnight). In some cases this was due to excessive workload re-cutting pictures for the Breakfast opt, in others a skills issue was to blame, and in other cases, excessive “polishing” of the edit led to long hours. It was agreed that the “Training Mentors” would keep an eye out for this issue during the early days after “Go-Live”. All being well “Go-Live” is July 23rd.

There was a small contingency fund to provide extra training courses outside the normal BBC provided ones. This has been used for example to provide 1st Aid training locally rather than send staff to London, which by the time travel and accommodation are paid, costs more!

Staffing levels at Radio Devon were raised by the NUJ. It would seem that there are two staff on sick leave, leaving a shortage of News staff to fill the Rota of 14. Management advised that one post has been advertised for filling on a contract basis, the other on a freelance basis. This was something that they would continue to monitor. The Editor thanked his staff for managing during a difficult time, but reminded the Unions that his station had had to save 10% of his budget under VfM cuts. He has already cut back on weekday late news bulletins, and some weekend ones. Late shifts now finish at 20:00 hrs

If any further cuts in budgets were handed down as a result of the post licence fee review, he could see that his only option would be to reduce some of the things that Radio Devon currently does, eg. reduce the number of hours of output.

Diversity: The region still falls short of it’s target, despite initiatives to try and improve the figure. The target does not seem to bear any relation to the actual makeup of the local populace, where there are is considerably lower ethnicity than the target. This is especially true on the Channel Islands.

Next meeting: August 8th 2007

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: BBC English Regions

English Regions Local Liaison Meeting: Tunbridge Wells, 02/05/07

I attended this meeting on May 2nd.

Minutes of the previous meeting did not seem to have been received, despite claims that they had been circulated. 

Management again reminded the Unions that staffing and budgets at TW are the lowest in Eng Regions.
However, the region had continued to gain recognition for excellent programming both by doing well at winning awards and raising already respectable viewing/ listening figures to new heights.

The HRLP congratulated all staff involved in the Folkestone earthquake coverage. Dedication and professionalism by all led to superbly co-ordinated programming on Radio, TV and On-Line

It was reported that one of the radio stations in the cluster is experiencing an above average level of staff taking maternity leave. This has stretched the budgets even tighter

The Video Server at TW has been highly unreliable in recent weeks. A rebuild of the machine had just been carried out in the hope that reliability would improve. ER Management have accepted that there is an urgent need to replace this system with a new (Quantel?) one. The earliest this could be on-line would be quarter 2, 2008 however.

The future of reception and the Shop is still under discussion. The BBC Trust is involved in the process.

BECTU raised the issue of what constitutes a “standby” shift. It was clear from Agreed Statements that to hold someone on standby, thereby expecting them to be available for duty at short notice, was considered as “working time” and thus would attract payment. Management agreed to look into specific cases outside the meeting.

BECTU noted that there was an expectation at weekends that the Broadcast Operators could all do VJ type work, but using professional crew cameras etc. Only a few staff were suitably trained, so the Union wanted it clarified to Producers and schedulers. Some members had been pressurised to do work that they felt they were not trained for. This should now stop.

Car Parking in the side alley: issues remain. Management undertook to remind offenders of the rules.

Review of Engineering: This was a BBC wide review, and so far no details have been provided to local management. Clarity is being sought by the BECTU at English Regions level.

The Union side raised the issue of pressure being brought on members to cut short or even skip their lunch breaks. Management said that this was not acceptable, and agreed to discuss individual cases outside of the meeting.

Next Meeting scheduled for July 16th 2007.

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: BBC English Regions

English Regions Local Liaison Meeting: Bristol 02/05/07

I was  unable to attend this since I was at Tunbridge Wells for a similar meeting.

However David Perry, Bristol Rep, attended. The most notable issue was about the introduction of server technology, and a corresponding change in the ways of working. Amongst these the proposed reduction in a sound shifts at weekends raised issues with BECTU members. We voiced their concerns about reduction in quality of the sound during live bulletins. This has indeed been experienced at other regional sites where no sound operator is present for morning and evening opt-outs.

Management undertook to review their suggestion. We advised them if they do go ahead with reduction in Sound operator shifts that they will have to convince members that quality can be maintained.

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: BBC English Regions

Blog powered by WordPress