BBC World News journalists are planning a 24-hour strike over changes to work rotas they claim will have them working “significantly more hours”, the NUJ has announced.
The walkout will take place on Thursday, 7 July, with staff leaving their central London newsroom from midday. The strike comes after 96.5 per cent of balloted union members voted in favour of industrial action.
According to the NUJ, the new rotas require staff to work extra days or longer hours, including extra “float” shifts, imposed as additional days on top of a regular four-week rota pattern.
“This will further disrupt the lives of staff already under strain because of years of job losses in News and the BBC’s failure to fill vacancies,” the union said today.
It added the corporation had ignored an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into conditions at BBC World News, which reported staff working “excessive hours” and no evidence of a plan to deal with work-related stress.
David Campanale, the union’s chapel father at World News, said: “No savings will come from this plan, just grief and animosity.”
However a BBC management source told Press Gazette: “It’s disappointing that asking people to work the number of hours that they are paid to is considered unreasonable. When a quarter of the team aren’t doing their contracted hours, it puts pressure on colleagues who are.
“You would think that the NUJ would embrace a system that protects jobs whilst ensuring that everyone has the same, fair deal and pulls their weight equally.”
The BBC World News channel broadcasts international news and current affairs. It has the largest audience of any BBC channel, with an estimated 76 million viewers weekly in 2014.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that a strike has been called, especially at a time when our services are much in demand globally.
“We will do everything possible to ensure our audiences are not unduly affected by this industrial action. These proposed rota changes are about fairness for all our staff and ongoing investment outside the UK – essential for a successful commercial global news channel.
“Despite the channel’s ongoing success, we are not immune to the financial pressures across the industry.
“The changes will ensure all our staff are working the same number of required hours across the board, while also delivering the resources required to continue to fully support our news operations around the world and preserve jobs in a difficult climate.”
Staff have said they believe the changes are part of savings meant to pave the way for a merger with the BBC News Channel.
Journalists working for BBC Parliament went on a 24-hour strike last month in a dispute over pay fairness.
They claimed that as Broadcast Assistants they did comparable work to colleagues at the BBC News Channel and BBC World as Broadcast Journalists but sat two pay grades below.