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Christmas strikes at BBC off, but ballot shows clear mandate to take action over redundancies

7 December 2012

Strike action at the BBC over the Christmas period has been averted as the NUJ settled its dispute over compulsory redundancies at the Asian Network.

The Asian Network national radio station has lost half its staff and is to move from its Leicester base to London. A ballot for strike action resulted in a 70.3% vote for strike action and 84.1% for action short of a strike.

However, BBC NUJ members will be told that action before Christmas is now off as the outstanding cases have been resolved, including journalists who have been redeployed to other posts.

Sue Harris, BBC national organiser, said:

"We are pleased that we have resolved the situation at Asian Network. It is vital that the BBC management makes sure that its deployment system works, so we do not lose experienced journalists and presenters because local-level managers are not making it work. We do not want to see licence-fee payers' money being spent on redundancy pay for members when there are jobs in the corporation for them to go to.
"However, the ballot shows that there is a clear mandate for strike action among our members for strike action over compulsory redundancies. This is crucial for the battle ahead as the BBC management's cost-cutting scheme, Delivering Quality First, rolls out. We have a number of potential redundancies in other departments across the BBC and we will be working to resolve them – or else we will be prepared to take action."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, has called on Tony Hall, the new director general to call a moratorium on cuts while the crisis at the BBC, caused by the Savile scandal which has resulted in a number of inquiries, is resolved.  She said:

"There must be a moratorium on these cuts.  It is a wake-up call to the BBC – it needs to take the opportunity to halt the assault on frontline journalism and put in place measures to shore up news and current affairs before it is too late."

The ballot result could be used to sanction industrial action during the Christmas period elsewhere in the BBC where there is the threat of compulsory redundancies. Chapels at BBC Scotland are meeting on Monday to consider plans for action if management fails to redeploy those at currently at risk.

Tags: strike, redundancies, broadcasting, ballot, bbc