Socialist Worker

Strikes against BBC sackings could start wider fight

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2143

Yorkshire Post pickets

Yorkshire Post pickets

Thousands of journalists at the BBC have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

They say they will strike next month unless bosses back down from planned cuts and redundancies.

The 77 percent strike vote by members of the NUJ union comes after management announced 20 compulsory redundancies at the corporation’s World Service. The cuts are the result of moving work overseas, in a process known as offshoring.

The NUJ has a policy of fighting compulsory redundancies at the BBC and believes that sackings at the World Service will be the first of many if the corporation is not brought to heel.

Union representatives from across the BBC met on Monday of this week and passed a motion in support of the aims of the strike.

They demanded management immediately enter meaningful negotiations and withdraw the threat of sackings.

If BBC bosses refuse to back down, the union says it will take strike action on Friday 3 April and Thursday 9 April.

NUJ representatives will be meeting their counterparts in the Bectu and Unite unions, who also have members at the BBC. The aim of these talks will be to completely shut down the BBC with coordinated strike action.

The solid vote for action should cheer everyone working in the media. It is proof that media workers are prepared to fight back, despite the almost daily announcements of further redundancies in the industry.

ITV declared last month that it wants to slash 600 jobs. This was followed last week by the revelation that the Guardian Media Group wants 78 redundancies at the Manchester Evening News and other titles.

The potential for a fight to protect jobs in local and regional newspapers is brilliantly shown by the ongoing dispute at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.

Management at the papers, both owned by the Johnson Press group, want to slash editorial staff by 10 percent.

In response, journalists have taken two four-day strikes, as well as picketing during day-long mandatory union meetings.

They have received fantastic support from local people and fellow trade unionists alike.

With scores of newspaper bosses attempting to make similar cuts, NUJ activists are now calling for a national strike in response.

The NUJ chapel (union branch) at the Halifax Courier, owned by the Johnston Press, is demanding the national union call what would be the first national strike by provincial journalists for 30 years.

It has written a letter to NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear saying the only way to tackle the crisis is “one out, all out”. The NUJ Left group is supporting this demand.

Action of this kind could unite thousands of journalists and other media workers in a fight to defend jobs and the valuable role played by local and regional newspapers.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 17 Mar 2009, 18:45 GMT
Issue No. 2143
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.