BBC World News walk out for 24 hours over rota row
Tim Dawson, Sue Harris and David Campanale at New Broadcasting House - © nuj
7 July 2016
Staff at BBC World News walked out for 24 hours over rota changes which require them to work significantly more hours, which they say could cause health problems.
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 there is no evidence of a plan to deal with work-related stress.
David Campanale, Father of Chapel of BBC World News, said:
"We are taking action on behalf of all members who work unsocial shifts: we are asking only for fair conditions. We care about the quality of our output and these roster changes will mean many of us working substantially more hours, putting our health at risk.
"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."
Tim Dawson, NUJ president, commended them on their action and helped to hand out leaflets outside New Broadcasting House, London. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, called by to wish the strikers luck and invited others to support them. NUJ members at World News voted by 96.5 per cent, on a strong turnout, for the action.
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.
- 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.
Messages of support
Please be assured of the NUT’s support to your members at BBC World News as they take strike action over rota changes which require them to work significantly more hours. Your action will bring greater awareness to the general public of the ill-advised plans by the BBC to impose excessive hourson your members with no evidence of a plan to deal with work-related stress. Solidarity to the NUJ and all journalists taking a stand. Kevin Courtney, acting NUT general secretary
We fully support your strike against these shift changes. It is disgraceful that the BBC, the jewel in the crown of our public service broadcasting, is trying to force journalists to work excessive hours and ignoring warnings from the Health and Safety Executive. Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS
I wish you and your colleagues all success with the action on Thursday. That any organisation should ignore an investigation by the HSE is highly irresponsible. Managers who do that show contempt for their staff that defies credibility and humanity. The BBC should be setting a good example, not an appalling one. And, accepting that being a BBC manager is not easy, especially at the moment, this is still self-inflicted harm at about the worst possible time in the organisation's history. Such individuals really should know better. I hope that collectively and with continued determination the NUJ chapel can help bring them to their senses before any further damage is done. With fraternal best wishes, Adam Christie, NEC member for Yorkshire & Humber and the NE.
Seconding Adam's words. Great to see that you and your chapel are ready and in determined mood.Our union's wonderful solidarity, and the knowledge that what you're doing is right, will see you through. All the best. We'll be thinking of you all. Richard (secretary, Leeds and Wakefield branch)
Good luck as you go on strike over this important issue. Be aware there are colleagues and former colleagues around the country thinking of you and supporting you as you take your action. Chris Coneybeer, Life member, Former FoC, Former BIC member