Socialist Worker

Here is the news: BBC journalists strike over pensions

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2227

BBC strikers and supporters in Birmingham on Friday of last week  (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

BBC strikers and supporters in Birmingham on Friday of last week (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Some 4,000 BBC workers struck on Friday and Saturday of last week against the attack on their pensions.

The nationwide strike, by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members, had a significant affect—taking several high profile programmes off the air. Radio 4’s flagship Today didn’t appear at all on Friday and was largely prerecorded on Saturday.

On a number of picket lines all over Britain, strikers persuaded members of other unions not to cross.

A number of members of Bectu—the other major union at the BBC which had voted to accept the latest offer—joined the picket lines and didn’t work. Others did collections and brought solidarity tea and cake in their lunch breaks.

The entire Southampton and Newcastle Bectu branches refused to cross picket lines.

In cities including London and Sheffield, postal workers refused to deliver mail.

Non-league Manchester football team FC United—who beat their higher ranked neighbours Rochdale in the FA Cup—refused to take part in the BBC’s Football Focus programme in solidarity with the strike.

Workers are furious that BBC bosses, enjoying their own bloated pension packages, have attempted to wreck the pensions of the lowest paid.

Scheme

BBC bosses say the pension scheme has a £2 billion deficit, and workers will have to pay in more, work for longer, and get less out.

The unions think the deficit is closer to £1 billion and it was worsened because of the two year “contributions holiday” management took when there was a boom.

Mike Workman, FOC (union rep) at the World Service spoke to Socialist Worker on the Bush House picket line in central London. He said, “Bosses at the BBC have betrayed the values and democracy of the corporation and brought it into disrepute.”

He was joined by Chris, who was on strike for the first time. “In the past two years there have been eight job cuts in my department but we’re still expected to deliver the same amount of work,” said Chris.

“There are lots of casuals brought in. It makes the workplace feel very competitive and these people—who are mostly young—don’t want to do ­anything to jeopardise their job. Management know this, and employ casuals partly for this reason.”

Also on the picket line was NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear. “The strike is solid,” he told Socialist Worker, “Regional news in Scotland, Wales and England have all been disrupted.”

Strikers held a rally outside Television Centre in west London on Friday.

Newsnight presenter and father of the chapel Paul Mason addressed the crowd, “If you work in this building you will know that the computers and the equipment barely work. It is the people that keep this going.”

The next strikes are scheduled for 15 and 16 November.

It is important that the strikes are not called off without the removal of the attacks, and continue until workers are paying no more into the fund or getting less out.


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