Rock. Hard place. BECTU. 

16 June 2004

Ballot for action on BBC pay

Pity the poor BBC. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t – by everyone.

Things are made worse when they start to argue with their recognised unions.

Thus ever was the fate of most unionised industries. But the BBC doesn’t need industrial strife in the run up to charter renewal.

Especially this charter renewal. After all, if Labour are in full control still at the time, they may try the “we’re more vengeful than the Tories” line and kill the BBC, by hook or by crook.

If, and god help us all, the vampire and his corrupt Major-ity cohorts somehow get into power, then the BBC is certain to be hung out to dry – partly punishment, partly because they can, and partly because there’s an opportunity to turn something great into Railtrack. Again. And again. That being what the Nasty Party do, of course.

Given that the LibDems are certainly not going to have a majority (though did you ever imagine you’d be praying for a hung parliament?) there’s little that can be done.

But the BBC could have lived without a dispute with BECTU. This will set the left against the corporation on general principles.

But it won’t set the right against BECTU. Instead, the right will see the disestablishment of the BBC as a way of ending the power of BECTU.

The Tories, in their infinite stupidity, killed a lot of people (Hatfield, Ladbroke, Potters Bar, happy now, Mr Major? Pleased with yourself?) when they disestablished British Rail in order to destroy ASLEF and the RMT. Labour are not in a hurry to undo the error, as that would hand the “power” back to the unions… as if we ever noticed they had it in the first place, Brits not generally being driven by ideology in this way.

So, the last (excepting only, I think, British Waterways) true nationalised industry will perish. That it will perish under Labour – or at least under the framework Labour even now is drawing up – is ironic. That it will perish, like Thames, for getting on the wrong side of an authoritarian government is deeply ironic.

That the BBC will perish but the unions will provide the political excuse for it is beyond ironic.

That’s just plain sickmaking.

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