National Union of Journalists members at the BBC World Service’s South Asia division are planning to hold a 24-hour strike next Thursday in protest against “offshoring” plans.
The BBC plans to move some World Service programme-making from London to Islamabad, Delhi and Kathmandu. The decision means that, according to the BBC, 10 London-based staff now face redeployment or redundancy.
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NUJ national broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: “The World Service is based on fearlessness and impartiality.
“This has been possible because they have remained independent from outside interference. If their editorial is moved overseas then they lose that independence.
“Our objective is to settle this dispute. Striking is always a last resort.
“What we need is a dialogue with the BBC but they haven’t offered a solution. Unfortunately they want to impose a plan that is unacceptable for our members.”
The BBC has said the move will bring the World Service closer to “both the stories and our audiences, and will allow us to react more quickly to breaking news”.
In a ballot of 40 NUJ members in the South Asia division of the World Service, 87 per cent voted for strike action on a 73 per cent turnout, a result McLaughlin said “showed the determination and solidarity of this group of members”.
A BBC World Service spokesman said: “We are disappointed that members of the joint unions have voted to support industrial action and have not accepted the management’s revised proposals for the restructure of BBC Hindi, BBC Nepalese, and BBC Urdu.
‘Our individual discussions with staff have already significantly reduced the number of those potentially facing redeployment from more than 30 to 10.
“However when action is taken we will ensure that there will be no disruption to services to listeners and users of the website.
“We believe the proposals will create new opportunities for staff and greatly improve our service to our audiences in the region.”
Last July, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We are committed to opposing these offshoring plans which are ill-founded and put at threat not just jobs, but editorial quality, integrity and the future of the World Service.”