BBC to face strike action in row over job cuts

Staff at the BBC have voted “decisively” to stage strike action in a row over job losses.

BBC Scotland likely to be hit after 86 per cent backed strike action. Picture: Ian Rutherford
BBC Scotland likely to be hit after 86 per cent backed strike action. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Members of the National Union of Journalists backed industrial action by almost three to one, with 86 per cent also supporting action short of a strike.

The union said it was withdrawing goodwill and would have “no choice” but to call strikes if the dispute is not resolved.

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The ballot was over plans to cut hundreds of jobs, which the NUJ said would affect 500 in the news and world service departments, although the corporation has pledged to create over 260 new posts.

The NUJ said the ballot result was “decisive.”

General-secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “NUJ members see this as a battle for the heart and soul of the BBC.

“Our members know that these cuts are being targeted in the wrong direction. Instead of sorting out managerial excesses and waste, it is grassroots journalism and programming facing the axe.

“Morale is at a record low, with staff working in an atmosphere described by one journalist as one of ‘fear and loathing’.

“Added to a process which is being mismanaged and where individuals are being treated appallingly, in a manner that is fundamentally inhumane, and the public will understand why NUJ members are saying enough is enough.

“This dispute can be sorted out easily if the BBC wants to, which is why we are seeking the intervention of the director-

“If we cannot reach a sensible settlement, NUJ members stand prepared to take strike action in the coming weeks and months in order to bring their campaign to the attention of the broader public, who share our members’ desire for a public service broadcaster that serves the interests of licence fee payers, not its 

The technicians’ union Bectu said its members had voted by 68 per cent for strikes and 84 per cent for other forms of action, in a turnout of 36 per cent. Assistant general-secretary Luke Crawley said: “Given that the BBC has over 470 volunteers for redundancy and 195 new posts to fill, it would be easy to give us the guarantees we are seeking. The fact that management refuses to do so raises fears amongst staff that the BBC is not committed to redeploying the maximum number of staff.

“The BBC should realise that rather than making redundancy payments to people who want to continue working for the BBC, licence fee payers’ money should be saved by redeploying staff elsewhere in the corporation.”

Bectu said strikes in BBC News were “almost certain” to be called later this month.

An NUJ spokesman said no date had been had been set for the strike.

A BBC spokesperson said: “BBC News has recently announced a savings programme of nearly £50 million to address pressures from the licence fee settlement. The process of implementation, as relates to both restructuring and redundancies, has only just begun.

“We are aiming to work with colleagues across the BBC and with their union representatives in carrying through this challenging programme.

“We are disappointed that the unions have chosen to ballot for industrial action when the consultation process has barely started.”