Union lobbies Jowell over BBC Technology sell-off

Decision imminent

Culture Minister Tessa Jowell is still mulling over whether to approve the privatisation of BBC Technology in a move fiercely opposed by employees of the division.

Tech staff at the Beeb have voted overwhelmingly to reject plans to sell off BBC Technology to Siemens as part of a cost-saving inititive by the broadcaster, although strike action was shelved following threats of legal action.

Last week BECTU, the union representing BBC tech staff, met Jowell to air their concerns. Offcials told the minister that other outsourcing initiatives at the BBC had led to job losses, raising fears that redundancies at BBC Technology were "inevitable" once Siemens takes over. She was also warned that the proposed sale involved most of the BBC's broadcast critical infrastructure - kit essential to keep public information services going in the event of a national emergency - and not just desktop IT activities.

Describing the BBC Technology sale as the most complex outsourcing exercise in the BBC's history, BECTU forecasts that the contract with Siemens would "prove to have gaps where services currently provided to the BBC by the company had been missed out".

A Department of Culture spokeswoman said the minister had listened to what the union had to say and that the union's views were being considered. Jowell's decision is due "imminently". ®

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