BBC journalists in England have voted for a new 48-hour strike on Wednesday, June 7 and Thursday, June 8 after rejecting the BBC’s revised plans on cuts to local radio.
Work to rule has also been re-established at the corporation. The strike will coincide with a lobby on Parliament on Wednesday, June 7. BBC members will update MPs on the NUJ campaign to keep BBC Local Radio Local and ask them to maintain the political pressure on the BBC over proposed changes that are universally unpopular among politicians of all parties.
The work to rule, which includes journalists refusing to act-up to more senior roles, has demonstrated how much the BBC relies on the goodwill of staff to keep programmes on air. Twice last week Look North’s evening news programme from Newcastle was unable to go ahead because NUJ members refused to act up and present the programme.
While some concessions were made in talks brokered by the arbitrator ACAS, NUJ reps said they did not go far enough to provide a proper service for the 5.7m loyal local radio listeners with members making clear that less sharing of programmes at weekends and during the week is needed for the dispute to be settled. The journalists on strike will be members on local radio, regional TV and online in England.
Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: “Many of our members who have had to reapply for their jobs and face redundancy have had a very bruising and upsetting time. They feel this has been very badly managed by senior managers. This fight is about the heart of the BBC’s public service remit. Local news is vital not just so people can be informed to be able to participate in local democracy, it binds communities together and for the many who will not be able to access local news digitally they will lose the familiar presenters who have become their friends. Local radio is not expensive in terms of the BBC’s budget, and we believe that the BBC could easily solve this dispute.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result of the NUJ ballot. We will continue to engage with the Union as we have done over the last few months in an effort to minimise the impact on our staff and our audiences.
“We have a plan to modernise local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding. Our goal is a local service across tv, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities.”