Socialist Worker

Thousands to strike for jobs at the BBC

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2145

Thousands of BBC workers across Britain are set to strike on Friday of this week. This action will have a severe impact on broadcasting.

The threat of compulsory redundancies, including 20 at the World Service's South Asian section, sparked the strike.

The planned cuts would hit London-based journalists on Hindi, Nepali and Urdu radio programmes and websites, who held a one-day strike over the issue on 26 February.

Now the rest of the NUJ union's membership at the BBC is set to join the fight. They voted by 77 percent to take action.

They are standing firm against director-general Mark Thompson's plans to make major cost-cutting measures that will damage the quality of the BBC's service.

Pete Murray, the deputy father of the chapel (workplace union rep) at BBC Scotland, and NUJ vice-president, spoke to Socialist Worker about the dispute.


'The NUJ membership has come together to say that we are going to fight for our colleagues so they are not forced out,' he said.

'A meeting of NUJ reps from across the BBC on Monday of this week showed the resolve members have to fight these attacks.

'Reps left with flyers and posters to go out and strengthen the dispute. The strike committee is meeting with management on Wednesday of this week. A meeting of reps has unanimously laid down a number of conditions that the BBC must meet.

'We agreed that we want progress on the issue of compulsory redundancies. The strike will only be called off if management makes significant concessions.'

BBC workers see the planned redundancies as the thin end of the wedge. 'If the BBC can get away with this, there will be more coming down the line for other workers,' said Pete.

'Mark Thompson recently boasted that he'd made 7,200 people redundant since he took over in 2004. But importantly, not one NUJ member has been made compulsorily redundant in that time.

'The whole of the media industry – whether print, broadcasting or other sections – is facing carnage at the moment, with bosses imposing job losses across the board.


'But wherever the union is strong, we will resist redundancies and stand up for public service journalism.

'It is a difficult time – but the union is determined and in many places people are voting with their feet.

'In Glasgow, where I work, eight people have joined the union in the last week because of the dispute.'

It is vital that trade unions fight to prevent the government and the bosses making workers suffer as the recession deepens.

'It is very important that trade unions stand up for their members at the moment,' Pete said. 'The NUJ leadership, which is from the left, was elected to fight and organise.

'I believe there is a fighting spirit among working people, as shown by the tens of thousands of people who marched in London on the Put People First protest last Saturday, which NUJ members joined.

'The unions need to build on this and lead the fight in the workplaces, as the NUJ has done at the BBC.'

NUJ members at the BBC also plan to strike on Thursday of next week if their demands are not met.

Meanwhile members of the Bectu union at BBC Scotland are balloting until 17 April over planned compulsory redundancies in Glasgow.

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Article information

Tue 31 Mar 2009, 20:31 BST
Issue No. 2145
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