BBC World News to hold 24-hour walkout over rota row
4 July 2016
Staff at BBC World News are planning a walkout as part of a 24-hour strike on Thursday 7 July over rota changes which require them to work significantly more hours.
They will leave their central London newsroom building at noon. NUJ members voted by 96.5 per cent, on a strong turnout, for the action.
Many at the 24-hour news station work anti-social, irregular and night shifts. There is a long-standing agreement which allows flexible hours, in an acknowledgment of the health risks of anti-social shifts and working late. But the BBC now wants to cut costs by imposing new rosters.
The BBC decision ignored an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into conditions at BBC World News which reported staff working "excessive hours" and no evidence of a plan to deal with work-related stress.
The new rosters require NUJ members to work extra days or longer hours, including extra "float" shifts, imposed as additional days on top of a regular four-week rota pattern. This will further disrupt the lives of staff already under strain because of years of job losses in News and the BBC’s failure to fill vacancies.
NUJ members at World News believe the rota changes are part of savings meant to pave the way for a merger with the BBC News Channel. Writing in the Radio Times, former BBC executive, Roger Mosley, called the proposed merger a “needless act of self-harm”, and said it would risk blocking important domestic stories from UK viewers and reduce the quality of the service BBC viewers expect.
David Campanale, NUJ FoC of World News, said:
"When asked at a staff consultation whether management was concerned that longer hours and more days would worsen sickness rates, harm already rock-bottom morale or undermine staff productivity, the head of the channel replied that this was a risk she was ‘prepared to take’.
“Such an approach to staff health and well-being is both reckless and self-defeating. It is the wrong response to the HSE investigation. Night-work or shifts that start or end in the early hours of the morning are known risk factors in heart disease, cancer, gastro-intestinal problems and can cause relationship breakdowns.
“No savings will come from this plan, just grief and animosity."
Following the strike, the chapel will consider taking further action, but says it is willing to continue talks with management to try to resolve the dispute if the threat of imposition is withdrawn.
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- BBC World News is the BBC's commercially-funded international 24-hour news and information channel, broadcast in English in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe. Its estimated weekly audience of 76 million makes it the BBC's biggest television service.