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BBC pensions strike - Live updates

6 November 2010

Journalists across the BBC walked out at midnight Thursday, beginning their first in a series of 48 hours strikes in the early hours of Friday morning. They took action in protest at plans to devalue their pensions by imposing a new 'pay more - get less' pension scheme.

For many members, it will mean being tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement. Their rationale for the move – that a potential £2bn hole in the pensions fund means that they have no choice, has been blown apart by reports they've commissioned from independent financial experts –  which show the figure to be closer to £1bn. The NUJ has outlined the union's approach to dealing with the deficit.

That is why the union has consistently offered to suspend strike action, if BBC management agree to negotiate a deal once the state of the funds is properly assessed next April, instead of forcing through a new scheme now. At that time, everyone will finally know what the actual deficit is – rather than an inflated guesstimate.

The NUJ has been overwhelmed over the past 2 days by the support received – not just from staff right the way acoross the BBC, but from the public and other workers. BBC colleagues in the NUJ's sister union, BECTU, have inundated the union with messages of support, with many refusing to cross picket lines to go into work. It's clear that staff right across the BBC are keen for the NU to win – as it would mean a better pensions deal for all.

The union gives its thanks to all NUJ members at the BBC and other staff, who have supported the strike by not crossing picket lines, refusing to take on additional duties or declining freelance jobs during the action.

There is now a strict work to rule in place for all NUJ members across the corporation, with a further 48-hour strike on 15/16 November. Further strike dates, including Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year's Eve/New Year's Day are now under consideration.

LIVE UPDATES

DAY 2

17.57
BBC Belfast picket - Saturday night © Private
Freezing cold, but still a solid picket in place at BBC Belfast © Private

15.11
Paul Mackney on picket line at Bush House © Private
Paul Mackney, former General Secretary of the UCU trade union, shows his support on the picket line at Bush House © Private

Izzy, daughter of Andy Comfort (Father of Chapel at BBC Hull), joins Hull picket line © Private
Worried about her inheritance, Izzy, the daughter of Andy Comfort (Father of Chapel at BBC Hull) joins the Hull picket line © Private

14.47pm
Overall Day 2 report
All BBC news and current affairs output affected, across all broadcast platforms, TV, radio and online, both nationally and in the regions. 

14.11pm
3 more reports in today of fed up BBC managers in the regions, expressing their disaisfaction with Mark Thompson to their staff on picket lines. Thats 11 similar reports in total so far, over the 2 days of action.

Favourite quote: "Everyone knows he's made a bloody mess - we're just waiting to see if he jumps before he's pushed."

13.41pm
Solid picket at BBC Manchester © Private
Solid picket at BBC Manchester

12.58pm
Hull picket Saturday evening © Private
'Make do and mend' on Humberside © Private
BBC Radio Humberside's assistant editor doing a long show, which he describes to listeners as " Make do and mend." No news broadcasters in at all in Hull. All 3 presenters due on Radio Humberside from 6am to 1.30pm are striking. Managers are playing songs to fill in.

12.15pm
BBC Scotland HQ picket line in Glasgow on day two of strike © Private
High spirits on the BBC Scotland HQ picket line in Glasgow © Private

11.57am
BBC Radio Cumbria is a news-free zone. No local news reports whatsoever!
BBC Radio Cumbria chapel's refreshments officer © Private
Celebratory teas and coffees delivered by BBC Radio Cumbria chapel's refreshments officer, Millie Clayton, aged 5! © Private

11.35am
Just in - Another no-show! Production team for Radio 4's 'Loose Ends' refuse to cross picket line!

11.17am
Comic Sally Philips stopped at the picket line with a simple request - 'Sticker me up!'

11.14am
'Strictly Bastards!'

Informed at the picket line about BBC management's attempted pensions robbery, Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman had just one word for them - 'Bastards!'

Tell them to 'foxtrot off' Len!

11.02am
Bush House - Support from BECTU members - it's spreading!

Along with BECTU members up and down the country, the production team for Radio 4's 'Loose Ends' programme cheerfully refuse to cross picket line of their sister union.

10.48am
BBC TV Centre - Saturday morning picket © Private
Solid second day of picketing at BBC Television Centre © Private

10.29am
FA Cup giant killers snub Football Focus!

Non-league giant killers, FC United (who beat their much higher ranked neighbours Rochdale 3-2 last night) are refusing to take part in the BBC's flagship Football Focus programme today, in solidarity with striking BBC journalists.

Speaking to The Workers United, club general manager Andy Walsh, said:

"I told Football Focus producer David Garrido that we would not be taking part, in solidarity with the strike.
"I've told everyone at the club not to take part.
"I'm a trades unionist and it is important that people take a stand."

10.02am
Pickets on both doors of BBC Hull, getting non-stop support from the public. The postman has refused to cross and says the mail will have to wait  'til Monday.

9.11am
This just in: Ian Robertson and his producer refusing to break the stike - despite today being one of the biggest days in the sporting calendar, with England playing the All Blacks!

Several top footie commentators also on strike at Radio 5Live!

8.14am
BBC management have moved heaven and earth to but out a 2-hour version of the Today programme - almost entirely pre-recorded material, but they've clearly shot their bolt - it was followed by a no-show from strikers Fi Glover (so no 'Saturday Live') and Sandi Toksvig (so no 'Excess Baggage').

8.01am
BBC Radio's Humberside's Sports Talk cancelled and replaced with a music programme.

8.00am
Just in - picket line at BBC Monitoring now up to full strength!

7.41am
Complete UK-wide picket report now in - Solid pickets in place at all BBC locations!

7.37am
Picket at BBC Scotland HQ, Glasgow © Private
Solid picket at BBC Scotland HQ, Glasgow © Private

6.00am
BBC Belfast picket, day 2 at 6am © Private
BBC Belfast just as solid on day 2! © Private

From the picket line: 'Much colder than yesterday - about 3° C, but being kept warm by listening to the comical efforts of managers to read the news!

Overnight

After 5 days of scrambling around, BBC management finally manage to assemble a 'team' of production staff (2 people) to pull together a version of the corporation's flagship Today programme. Comprising almost entirely of pre-recorded material and just 2 hours long, the highlight was Sarah Montague introducing the programme with the words "Good morning, it's six o-clock" - only to be corrected and reminded that the programme started at seven! Hardly auntie's finest hour!

DAY 1

8.29pm
BBC Stoke - Members devise pensions dispute resolution plan.

"The BBC Stoke chapel thinks it's found a way to end the dispute. If, when a round of coffees is bought for the picket line and there's £1 or more in change, invest it in a lottery ticket for everyone to share. We've done the maths and it's a much better bet than managemnt's CAB 2011 proposal!"

4.30pm
BBC confirm Newsnight cancelled tonight

BBC Pensions strike – It's paralysis, says NUJ
BBC news and current affairs output has been paralysed by a strike of journalistic staff. The 48-hour walkout, the first of two planned for this month, started at midnight last night and saw mass walkouts at BBC Centres across the country.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

“Support for today’s action has been rock solid with flagship programmes forced off air and just a few skeleton services run by senior managers.
“Members are united in their determination to secure a fair pension settlement for BBC staff. But current proposals mean people paying more, working longer and getting less. If the BBC simply agreed to suspend planned changes until the true size of the deficit in the scheme is known the threat of further strike action could be lifted without it costing a single penny.”

BBC Newcastle picket line © Private
BBC Newcastle picket line © Private

Edinburgh picket line © Private
Edinburgh picket line © Private

BBC Scotland Glasgow strike rally

Members of both the Scottish and Westminster Parliament had strong support for the union's strike action, while they joined scores of BBC Scotland journalists, fellow trade unionists and other campaigners at a midday rally outside BBC Scotland's headquarters in Glasgow.

Scottish National Party MSP, Christina McKelvie, the Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish TUC, Dave Moxham, both spoke of the BBC's proposals mirror wider threats to pensions in the public sector. Jim Malone of the Fire Brigades Union told the rally:

"We need quality journalism and world class journalism on the BBC deserves decent wages and pensions."

Other speakers included Eddie Graham from the Musicians Union and local Glasgow MP, Tom Harris, who says he is deeply worried for the future of the BBC and public sector broadcasting when the Prime Minister can use terms such as “delicious” to describe 16% cuts in BBC funding.

"It is just as well David Cameron’s comments have been exposed," said Tom Harris.

The chapel will continue to run pickets into this evening, with members back for day two of the industrial action campaign from 6am tomorrow.

BBC Scotland Glasgow picket line © David Gordon
BBC Scotland Glasgow picket line © David Gordon

BBC Scotland Glasgow picket line © David Gordon
BBC Scotland Glasgow picket line © David Gordon

Peter Murray, NUJ President, at Glasgow picket line © David Gordon
Peter Murray, NUJ president, at Glasgow picket line © David Gordon

Tom Harris MP on Glasgow picket line © David Gordon
Tom Harris MP on Glasgow picket line © David Gordon

Glasgow BBC strike © David Gordon
Glasgow BBC strike © David Gordon

BBC Millbank picket line © Private
BBC Millbank picket line © Private

15.21pm

  • In Cornwall, Bectu members joined the picket line and refused to cross it.
  • PCS refuse to do BBC Radio interview for Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • Welsh Language Society refusing to give interviews to BBC about major demonstration they are holding tomorrow.

14.48pm

  • The Parliamentary Staff Branch of Unite the Union have visited the BBC Millbank picket line
  • Reports of en masse refusals of BECTU members (including camera operators, satellite truck engineers and video editors) to cross picket lines at Newcastle and Southampton.

BBC Bristol picket line © Private
BBC Bristol picket line © Private

BBC Bristol picket line © Private
BBC Bristol picket line © Private

BBC strike Bristol © Private
Coco the dog at the BBC Bristol picket line © Private

Youngest person on the BBC Belfast picket line © Private
Youngest person on the BBC Belfast picket line © Private

BBC Belfast picket @ 2.25pm © Private
BBC Belfast picket @ 2.25pm © Private

14.14pm

We are overwhelmed by messages of support - thank you and read them all.

BBC Millbank picket line © Private
BBC Millbank picket line © Private

BBC Millbank picket line © Private
BBC Millbank picket line © Private

BBC Millbank picket line © Private
BBC Nottingham picket line © Private

BBC Scotland

Green Party Co-Convenor (left) Patrick Harvie joins BBC Scotland NUJ pickets outside Glasgow HQ   © Private
Green Party Co-Convenor (left) Patrick Harvie joins BBC Scotland NUJ pickets outside Glasgow HQ © Private

BBC Belfast

NEC member for Northern Ireland and chair of the Belfast and District Press Branch, Bob Miller, joins BBC Belfast picket line © Private
Belfast and District Press Branch officials join NUJ strikers outside Broadcasting House, Belfast © Private

Belfast and District Press Branch officials joined their NUJ colleagues to offer support to the strikers outside Broadcasting House, Belfast. NEC member for Northern Ireland and chair of the Belfast and District Press Branch, Bob Miller, spent several hours on the picket line with Deputy FoC of the Belfast Telegraph Chapel, Brian Pelan, and they were joined by Brian Campfield and Alison Millar, the General and Deputy General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) trade union, who were on hand to offer their support.

13.44pm

  • BBC Newcastle expect to be carrying a regional TV programme from Leeds because so many have stayed out and hope to have pickets out from 5am-5pm tomorrow.
  • BBC Arabic television has a strapline which says "we apologise to viewers"! Only broadcasting pre-recorded material, with an hourly news read through.

Bush House Rally

Bush House rally - Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, addresses strikers in London © Private
Bush House rally - Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, addresses strikers in London © Private

Green Party Co-Convenor (left) Patrick Harvie joins BBC Scotland NUJ pickets outside Glasgow HQ   © Private
Green Party Co-Convenor (left) Patrick Harvie joins BBC Scotland NUJ pickets outside Glasgow HQ © Private

Bush House rally © Private
Bush House rally © Private

13.20pm

  • Radio Shetland is off air.

BBC Millbank picket line © Private
BBC Millbank picket line © Private

BBC Midlands

BBC Midlands picket line - with guy © Midlands TUC
BBC Midlands picket line - with guy © Midlands TUC

BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC
BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC

Birmingham and Coventry branch join BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC
BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC

BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC
BBC Midlands picket line © Midlands TUC

BBC Scotland

Members of both the Scottish and Westminster Parliament shopwed their supportby joining scores of BBC Scotland journalists, fellow trade unionists and other campaigners at a midday rally outside BBC Scotland's headquarters in Glasgow.

Scottish National Party MSP, Christina McKelvie, the Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish TUC, Dave Moxham, both spoke of the BBC's proposals mirror wider threats to pensions in the public sector. Jim Malone of the Fire Brigades Union told the rally: "we need quality journalism and world class journalism on the BBC deserves decent wages and pensions."

Other speakers included Eddie Graham from the Musicians Union and local Glasgow MP, Tom Harris, who says he is deeply worried for the future of the BBC and public sector broadcasting when the Prime Minister can use terms such as "delicious" to describe 16% cuts in BBC funding.

"It is just as well David Cameron's comments have been exposed," said Tom Harris.

The chapel will continue to run pickets into this evening, with members back for day two of the industrial action campaign from 6am tomorrow.

BBC Glasgow gets ready to rally © Private
BBC Glasgow gets ready to rally © Private

BBC Norwich radio and TV picket line  © Private
BBC Norwich radio and TV picket line © Private

BBC Norwich radio and TV picket line  © Private
BBC Norwich radio and TV picket line © Private

12.52pm

  • Good turnout on the picket lines in Leeds.
  • ITV Yorkshire have been filming Leeds pickets and a Yorkshire Post/Evening Post photographer has been.
  • NASUWT members are on the way to show support to Jersey picket line.

12.40pm

BBC London TV Centre

BBC London picket at TV Centre © Private
BBC London picket at TV Centre © Private

12.23pm

  • BBC Lincolnshire reports good support from the public. People say we're right and should stick at it.
  • ITV News in Yorkshire & Hull Daily Mail have interviewed Andy Comfort, FoC at BBC Hull.
  • Jake Zuckerman, Lincoln FoC, has been interviewed by The Lincolnshire Echo and Lincs FM.
  • In Hull, we've had teachers and council workers come over and lend their support.
  • Cambridge chapel had support from local trades council, NUT and Unite.
  • Flagship current affairs programme Good Morning Ulster off the air.
  • BBC Radio Ulster Stephen Nolan show (9-10.30) off air.
  • BBC Radio Ulster Talkback (12-1.30) off the air.

BBC Lincolnshire

BBC Lincolnshire picket line © Private
BBC Lincolnshire picket line © Private

12.19pm

  • The most southerly picket line is in Jersey outside BBC Jersey with an all female chapel and we have got local paper and chanel island TV coverage.
  • Picket lines in Guernsey, Truro (BBC Cornwall), Ipswich, Plymouth, Shrewsbury (Shropshire), Worcester (BBC Hereford and Worcester), Stoke, Cambridge (BBC Look East TV and Radio Cambridgeshire) which had local paper coverage, plus PA and ITV.

12.13pm

  • NUJ members at BBC Cornwall, in Truro, mounted a picket line from 5.45am today. No NUJ members crossed the line. The action left the BBC Cornwall on-line desk completely unstaffed.

BBC Cornwall

BBC Radio Cornwall picket line © Private
BBC Radio Cornwall picket line © Private

11.54am

  • Good turnout at picket lines in Hull. Support from Bectu colleagues, many of whom haven't come in. We've had visits from Unison and the NUT, as well as Hull City Council's Leader.
  • BBC Open Centre, run by Hull City Council, is closed today. A group of youngsters turned up and, confused by the BBC Pensions Robbery poster, said "Oh, it's closed because there's been a robbery!" - Correct!

11.50am

A picture speaks a thousand words…

 BBC not working

BBC Oxford

Solid picket. "It's like the Marie Celeste in there!"

BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring - Peanuts for pensions © Private
BBC Monitoring - Peanuts for pensions © Private

BBC Jersey

BBC Jersey picket line © Private
BBC Jersey picket line © Private

11am

  • Moira Stuart refused to work today at network radio.
  • Radio 3 breakfast presenter refused to cross picket.
  • BECTU members refusing to cross W1 pickets at Bush House, Henry Woor House, Yalding House, Western House.
  • Staff joining the NUJ on the picket line.
  • Bengali service overnight team walked out at midnight.
  • Service head in Dhakar having to do the work.


BBC Leicester

BBC Leicester picket line © Private
BBC Leicester picket line © Private

BBC Lancashire

BBC Lancashire picket line, with goose © Private
BBC Lancashire picket line, with goose © Private

BBC Bush House

Bush House London picket line © Private
Bush House London picket line © Private

BBC Cymru Broadcasting House

BBC Cymru Broadcasting House picket line © Photo: Brian Morgan
BBC Wales picket line joined by Leanne Wood, Assembly Member © Private

Very nasty rain, picket line joined by Leanne Wood, Assembly Member, Wales (below the C in BBC, red sign centre). Pickets report that an Equity member refused to cross picket line earlier.

BBC Edinburgh

NUJ President Pete Murray joins the picket line in Edinburgh © Private
NUJ President Pete Murray joins the picket line in Edinburgh © Private

BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring picket line © Private
BBC Monitoring picket line © Private

Norfolk NUJ picket outside the Forum in Norwich

Norfolk NUJ picket outside the Forum in Norwich © Private
Norfolk NUJ picket outside the Forum in Norwich © Private

9.59am

In Bristol, non-NUJ staff won't cross the picket line.

9.24am

  • Postman refuses to crosspicket lines at Millbank
  • BBC employees refuse to cross picket lines at Bush House and TV Centre

BBC Hull

BBC Hull picket line © Private
BBC Hull picket line © Private

8.45am

  • BBC HR chief, Lucy Adams on Radio 5, claiming: "There is no more money on the table" "Other unions have accepted that."

In response Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Lucy Adams' claims that the BBC must take this action now are completely false. Neither she nor the BBC know the real size of deficit is. What BBC management do know is that when the pension fund valuation is published next year, the defecit is likely to be shown to be far smaller than the £2bn figure they currently claim and the rationale for the changes they propose will be shot to pieces.
"As far as her claim that other unions have accepted that there is no more money, not only is that false, but our sister union, BECTU, have warned the BBC that, should the defecit be shown to be below £1.5bn, they will ballot their members for industrial action!"

8.39am

  • 95 per cent of world service newsroom out on strike.
  • Many BECTU members not in work.

BBC Southampton

BBC Southampton picket line © Private
BBC Southampton picket line © Private

BBC Brighton

BBC Brighton picket line © Private
BBC Brighton picket line © Private

BBC Radio Foyle

BBC Radio Foyle picket line © Private
BBC Radio Foyle picket line © Private

BBC Bush House, London

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, joins Bush House picket line © Private
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, joins Bush House picket line © Private

7.30am

  • A dozen are picketing at BBC Scotland HQ (Glasgow)
  • BBC Scotland controller, Ken MacQuarrie, is unable to confirm that today's scheduled meeting of the audience council may go ahead. At least 1 member of the council has confirmed that they will not cross the picket line.
  • 7am news bulletin read out by the News and current affairs editor, with global BBC strike reduced to penultimate story (prior to a story about a retiring lollpypop man).
  • After days of desperate scrambling and repeated refusals, BBC managers have finally found someone prepared to sit in front of the camera and present BBC Breakfast.
  • The World Today (BBC World Service) has been pulled.
  • BBC bosses forced to abandon "Good Morning Scotland" flagship breakfast radio programme.

7.15am

  • All NUJ members out at BBC Cornwall

BBC Glasgow

BBC Glasgow at 7am © Private
BBC Glasgow at 7am © Private

BBC Belfast Broadcasting House

BBC Belfast Broadcasting House at dawn © Private
BBC Belfast Broadcasting House at dawn © Private

6am

  • Today programme off air.
  • BBC Breakfast has none of the usual presenters and there is only one of them.

BBC Hull

BBC Hull at 5am © Private
BBC Hull at 5am © Private

BBC Stoke

BBC Stoke at 4.45am © Private
BBC Stoke at 4.45am © Private

Just after midnight:

  • Reports of mass walkout at BBC TV Centre - 30 strong picket.
  • Report of mass walkout at BBC Bush House - 20 strong picket.
  • Mass walkout at BBC Glasgow HQ - 100% solid.
  • BBC News 24 forced to run an old repeat of 'Hardtalk'.
  • BBC Five Live running taped shows.
  • BBC World News America off air.

BBC Bush House

BBC Bush House at midnight © Private
BBC Bush House at midnight © Private

Empty newsrooms just after midnight

Bush House newsroom just after midnight © Private
Bush House newsroom just after midnight © Private

Empty newsroom at TV Centre © Private
Empty newsroom at TV Centre © Private

Today we expect pickets lines will take place at -

BBC London – TV Centre/White City, Bush House and Millbank. BBC Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen and Inverness. BBC Cardiff, BBC Bristol, BBC Belfast. BBC Manchester, BBC Merseyside and BBC Lancashire. BBC Tunbridge Wells, BBC Southampton, BBC Nottingham, BBC Leeds, BBC Hull, BBC Newcastle, BBC Birmingham, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, BBC Lincolnshire, BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Monitoring at Caversham, BBC Jersey, BBC Stoke, BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Spotlight, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Look East, BBC Radio Norfolk and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Outside of the UK pickets are expected at BBC sites in Kabul, Washington, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles and Istanbul.

Events:

Please attend:

NUJ LONDON: Supporters asked to go to TV Centre for 12 noon on Friday 5 November, London W12.

NUJ SCOTLAND: Rally against BBC pensions robbery, Friday 5th November at 11.30am. 

Messages of support from other trade unions and politicians

More information:

Email strike reports, pictures from picket lines and messages of support to: campaigns@nuj.org.uk

Press enquiries:

Please email campaigns@nuj.org.uk or call 020 7843 6380 or 020 7843 6381

Background information on the dispute leading up to the strike action.

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, pensions, strike, dispute