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The BBC's decision to outsource its technology department was bound to be controversial but its decision to give bidders for the contract a hit-list of planned job cuts is even less popular.

The document, code-named Project Leo, was drawn up last year in a last-ditch effort to hit budget targets by cutting costs and staff. When the decision was made to outsource the department the Project was canned but it was never published because it would be "too upsetting" for staff.

The two remaining bidders for the project - Accenture and Siemens - have both been sent the hit list of potential redundancies. The third bidder, CSC, withdrew from the process last week.

Luke Crawley, BECTU official, said: "We always knew there was a risk of staff being fired once the sale went through, but it's astonishing that the current management are not just making the bullets, but loading them into the new employer's gun."

Unions expected job losses but didn't expect the BBC to play such a central role in organising them. BECTU(Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) officials were told they could not discuss Project Leo with BBC execs unless they signed a confidentiality agreement, they refused.

BECTU has already warned the BBC that it plans to ballot for industrial action on grounds that there was insufficient time for negotiations on terms and conditions and because management has refused to make guarantees about jobs and pensions after the sale goes through. ®

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