Socialist Worker

Striking journalists at the BBC interrupt bosses’ plan

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2341

BBC journalists on strike in London last Monday  (Pic: Smallman )

BBC journalists on strike in London last Monday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Programmes were taken off air and newsrooms lay empty on Monday of this week as BBC journalists walked out in a dispute over compulsory redundancies.

Thousands of members of the NUJ union voted by over 70 percent to strike in a ballot last year.

Strikes were delayed while the union hoped to have meaningful talks with management. It called a strike after talks failed.

Pickets were up and out early across Britain.

At Television Centre in west London, workers switched off their computers and walked out at one minute past midnight. They were joined by NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.

In Scotland journalists held mass picket lines (see below).


The strike had a big impact on programming. Radio 4’s live morning current affairs show was replaced with pre-recorded material. BBC Breakfast was replaced with property show Escape to the Country.

The Newsnight programme was also replaced.

By mid-morning the BBC released a statement saying, “There will be no regional news from 1.30pm-1.45pm.

The NUJ is embroiled in a long-running dispute at the BBC as management wants to cut £2 million off the budget over five years.

There have been disputes over pensions, wage grades, workloads and now threatened compulsory redundancies.

At New Broadcasting House in central London pickets were out from 5am.

Tory Blair, an NUJ rep, said, “Everyone walked out here at midnight when the strike started.

“We held emergency strike meetings for reps in the run-up to the strike.”

BBC Turkish Service workers held a banner in Turkish reading “In this establishment you have to strike!”

Another picket, Howard, added, “They’re reducing the staffing levels, which means we’re having more work loaded onto us.”

One worker from the news room, said, “Management are not using the redeployment agreement properly.

“They are breaking their promises and there is less staff but output isn’t being decreased.”


Another striker, who didn’t want to give their name, said, “This is the only language management understand. We have to strike to get them to have a reasonable conversation.”

In Bristol workers picketed against the changes to working conditions.

Senior editors are being pressured to take voluntary redundancy, with no replacement posts.

Junior reporters at much lower rates of pay will be expected to cover news items.

Investigative journalism is likely to suffer as a result, while coverage of local communities will be severely weakened.

A work to rule began across the BBC on Friday last week, adding to the action taken by journalists at BBC Scotland over the last month.

The process so far has shown that BBC management cannot be trusted. The NUJ should push forward with more action to force management back from their plans for job cuts.

Thanks to Martin Upchurch

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Article information

Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:26 GMT
Issue No. 2341
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