Limited action at BBC over World Service sackings

Full strike action by BBC journalists over the February sacking of two BBC World Service producers has been thwarted, after an NUJ ballot fell short of the proposal.

A closely contested vote for an all-out strike was lost, as 45 per cent voted for and 55 per cent against, after the broadcaster refused to reinstate BBC Arabic service producers Adli Hawwari and Abdul Hadi Jiad.

A second ballot for limited industrial action was won, with 63.3 per cent of the vote in favour. Forty-one per cent of the 3,000 balloted members turned out to vote.

The limited action will begin on 15 May, with BBC journalists set to boycott the BBC’s Big Conversation initiative, in which it plans to link up with its journalists across the world.

John Fray, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “The vote only just fell short – we still condemn the action of the BBC against our colleagues.”

The BBC said it believed the strike vote fell short “because NUJ members are aware of the wholly exceptional circumstances surrounding the dismissal of these two men”.

Chapels have been instructed by the union to withdraw goodwill and “other voluntary activities” and will also devise individual forms of industrial action appropriate to each chapel.

The two journalists were sacked from the BBC’s Arabic service after what World Service director Mark Byford described as a “complete breakdown in trust and confidence” (Press Gazette, 21 February).

BBC World Service took the rare step of issuing a statement that said the dismissals followed Hawwari, a member of the NUJ National Executive Council, and Jiad initiating 17 unsuccessful employment tribunal claims and “numerous” court appeals.

The NUJ condemned the sackings and subsequent media briefing as an outrage and without justification.

By Wale Azeez

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