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BBC Local strikes paused following new offer


Strike action over cuts to BBC local radio has been paused following talks brokered by industrial arbitrator ACAS.

Members in local radio, local TV and online were due to stage a 24-hour walk out on Friday, May 5 to coincide with the results of the local elections. The action would have followed a previous walkout on budget day in March.

Journalists have now been sent a consultative ballot on whether they are willing to accept a revised proposal from BBC management and end the dispute, or to reject it and continue with strike action and the work to rule.

This means that from noon on Friday, April 28 to Tuesday, May 9 the ongoing work to rule is paused, and the planned strike on Friday, May 5 is postponed. If the proposals are rejected, the work to rule will return on Wednesday, May 10.

The strikes concern BBC’s proposals for proposed local radio stations to share programmes across the network from 2pm on weekdays and at weekends, meaning that large parts of England would have less than half the current 100-hour output per week specific to their local area.

The plans would result in job losses and journalists having to re-apply for their own jobs, although the BBC has emphasised that every job lost in local radio would be replaced by a new one in its digital services. The union says the proposals will slowly kill off local radio which has 5.7m loyal listeners.

The revised deal includes removing the risk of redundancy from 300 journalists, new guarantees on redeploying those who lose their role, plus putting on three extra pairs of weekend breakfast shows. The BBC also agreed to conduct stress risk assessments in each region ahead of roll-out.

In a separate dispute, members working for Radio Foyle in Derry are being balloted over taking industrial action over cuts at the station.

At the union’s delegate meeting this weekend Michelle Stanistreet told members: “Our action to date has been hugely impactful. TV regional news bulletins were taken off air, local radio shows had to be axed. The work to rule has built massive cumulative pressure, not least because it has demonstrated to BBC bosses outside of BBC Local just how much work is done in local BBC sites because of the sheer amount of professionalism, good will, and acting up of members day in day out.”

The revised offer comes following new talks brokered by ACAS in the last week, which Stanistreet said were a direct result of the “pressure” of previous strike action.

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