NUJ votes for ballot at BBC

NUJ members at the BBC have voted unanimously in favour of a ballot on strike action in support of sacked Arabic Service producers, Dr Abdul-Hadi Jiad and Adli Hawwari.

Following an emergency session called by 60 BBC NUJ chapels on 7 March, the union said it was looking for BBC-wide support for strike action “in defence of the most fundamental principles – the right to be represented at a fair hearing with the subsequent right to appeal”.

The union also condemned senior management for last month’s sackings, which the BBC conceded were in breach of its own disciplinary procedures in that, in the first instance, they should have been suspended on full pay pending disciplinary hearing.

The meeting also criticised the BBC “for its carefully orchestrated attempts to demonise” the two in the national press. It passed a resolution saying the decision to sack them by director general Greg Dyke, World Service director Mark Byford and head of BBC personnel Stephen Dando was in flagrant breach of long-established BBC agreements with the unions.

“It sends a chilling message to all BBC staff that, from now on, anyone can be summarily dismissed in a similar fashion,” the resolution said.

The union said the BBC had turned down a written request for a national meeting to discuss the sackings.

A BBC spokesman said the call to ballot members had been duly noted, but insisted the corporation was clear that the dismissal of the two with notice was due to a “breakdown of trust and confidence” and it was “exceptional action following exceptional behaviour. We’ve never seen behaviour like it before and do not expect to see it again.” He rebutted the suggestion that other journalists were at risk of being sacked without appeal. “We do not see the dismissals as setting any precedents,” he added.

By Wale Azeez

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