BBC faces 24-hour strikes as journalists back action

By Caitlin Pike

The BBC is expected to be hit by a series of strikes by its
journalists and other production staff in response to the corporation’s
plans to axe 4,000 jobs and cut budgets.

A total of 83.9 per cent of BBC NUJ members taking part in a ballot, which closed on Wednesday, voted to strike.

The turnout was 64.2 per cent.

Exact
details of the action have not been confirmed but it is believed the
NUJ will plan a series of 24-hour BBCwide stoppages as well as some
more targeted action aimed at specific programmes and events.

The
NUJ is renewing its call for the BBC to drop its opposition to
“meaningful negotiations” with the unions in a last-ditch bid to avoid
the need for strike action.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear
said: “This result is a reflection of the huge anger at the scale and
impact of [director general] Mark Thompson’s cuts. The cuts package is
badly thought out, doesn’t add up, will do irreparable damage to
quality and standards and has been soundly rejected by staff.

“BBC
staff have shown that if Mark Thompson and senior management are not
prepared to protect the future of the BBC, they are. Now is the time
for the BBC to stop lecturing staff and start listening to their
concerns.”

The BBC issued a statement on Wednesday which said:
“Given the scale of the changes the BBC needs to make and that the
unions have not allowed us to talk to them in order to address their
concerns we are not surprised by the ballot result, but we are
disappointed because we would have preferred to continue constructive
discussions with them.”

● Pressure is mounting on BBC Scotland controller Ken MacQuarrie to scrap plans to cut 195 jobs, writes Hamish Mackay.

MacQuarrie,
who has already had a vote of no confidence in his management passed by
more than 150 staff, is now at the centre of protests to the
Broadcasting Council for Scotland.

The council, the lay watchdog
of BBC Scotland, has been asked why protests from the trades unions
over job cuts were not heard at its meeting on 5 May. The refusal has
led to an open letter to chair, Jeremy Peat, from the NUJ, BECTU and
Amicus.

The letter says: “We believe we speak for hundreds of
staff at BBC Scotland when we appeal to you as a member of the
Broadcasting Council for Scotland, to consider the very serious
concerns we have about the impact which planned cuts in budgets and
jobs will have on programme quality and diversity across the BBC.”

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