Socialist Worker

Lights, camera, industrial action as staff walk out at BBC

Issue No. 1952

Unions at the BBC have announced four days of joint strike action against 3,800 job cuts and the programme of privatisation announced by director-general Mark Thompson.

The three unions — NUJ, Bectu and Amicus — will strike for 24 hours on Monday of next week, followed by a 48-hour stoppage from Tuesday 31 May to Wednesday 1 June and another 24-hour stoppage the following week.

“We have absolutely no doubt that BBC staff will act with their feet and walk out in huge numbers, causing major disruption to programme output,” said Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the journalists’ NUJ union.

“A staggering one in five jobs is under threat. Quality and standards cannot possibly survive such an onslaught.”

The strike dates follow an overwhelming vote for action in a ballot held last month.

Bectu members voted to strike with 78 percent in favour on a 49 percent turnout. The NUJ vote was 84 percent in favour of strikes on a 64 percent turnout.

The unions are planning picket lines at all BBC buildings during the strike. They are also reporting a surge in membership, with Bectu recruiting over 1,000 members during the ballot campaign.


by Pete Murray, deputy NUJ FoC, BBC Scotland

People here are so pissed off by the arrogance of the BBC. We’ve recruited a lot of people over past weeks at the BBC’s Glasgow workplace.

We organised a joint strike committee, bringing together activists and officials from the three unions involved, which is planning what we need to do and producing a weekly leaflet.

A key thing happened about a month ago. The local management started pinpointing people and telling them, “Your job’s going.” The unions told them they couldn’t do that because of an agreed moratorium, but they did it again to a reporter based in Stirling.

That evening the management called senior reporters to a “strategy meeting”. Our chapel (union branch) met beforehand and organised a solid mass walkout from that meeting.

News 24

by a BBC News 24 worker

The strike vote among journalists was excellent and really does reflect the anger people have been feeling.

I expect the strike to be solid — we’ll take most of the news programmes off air.

In just the past month, we’ve had the pope’s death, a royal wedding and a general election. People have been working incredibly hard and there’s not much slack to make job cuts.

At BBC News 24 there’s been a simmering resentment at the way management have been behaving for a long while.

We’ve responded by withdrawing our “goodwill” and working to contract.

This doesn’t require a formal ballot and helps hold the line against all the daily petty ways in which the management takes us for granted.

It gave people a sense that they could take action even if it wasn’t official—plus it saved that reporter’s job.

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Sat 21 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1952
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