Casualty production crew plan protest over dismissals

Production staff from the BBC series Casualty are to stage a protest outside the drama’s Bristol-based production studios this Wednesday, following claims some employees are being dismissed so the Corporation can avoid awarding them certain employment rights,

According to Bectu, seven staff from the show’s props department are not having their contracts renewed this month, because the BBC wants to avoid having to grant the employees specific rights that come with working for the Corporation over 12 months.

The union said the staff affected face dismissal after 11 months and two weeks of continuous service.

Tonight, the union is holding an emergency meeting with crew from the show, which will be followed by the protest outside the drama’s studios on Wednesday.

Bectu supervisory official Helen Ryan said: “This treatment of individuals would be unacceptable and immoral coming from any employer. However, the fact this it is the BBC, a publicly funded, and universally respected broadcaster will cause many to view the BBC in a new light.”

Staff at risk are being encouraged to lodge a formal appeal against their dismissal.

Ryan added: “We will do everything we can to persuade BBC Vision to reverse this decision.”

David Donovan, Bectu regional official, told The Stage that the employees affected used to be engaged through a company called Bristol Design Services.

However, he said last year they had been engaged by the BBC, which he said had created a direct “employer/employee relationship”.

Donovan said the BBC sometimes has reasons for breaking contracts, including refreshing the artistic feel of a show.

But he said at a meeting last week the BBC had admitted that the decision not to renew the contracts was to “avoid these people building up employee entitlements”.

He said this included redundancy rights, which are only available to staff who have worked with the Corporation for 2 years.

“They are refusing employees the right to build up and accrue the time necessary to claim all these other entitlements,” he said.

He added: “We don’t know who is going to replace them. We have got art directors there not knowing who they are going to use instead of these very experienced crew.”

A spokesman for the BBC said: “The BBC does not comment on discussions with either Bectu or individuals.”

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