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Journalists at BBC Parliament to strike for 24 hours over unequal grading

14 June 2016

The broadcasting of Prime Minister's Questions and the quizzing of Sir Philip Green over the demise of BHS by MPs could be hit by a strike by NUJ journalists in a dispute over unequal grading.

NUJ members at the BBC Parliament channel will stage a 24-hour strike tomorrow (Wednesday 15 June) in a dispute over lack of recognition and unequal grading. The ballot for strike action had a 100 per cent turnout and 100 per cent vote for action, where union membership is also at 100 percent.

BBC Parliament is a 24 hour channel, part of the BBC News division. The majority of those who produce content for BBC Parliament are Broadcast Assistants (BAs).  A BA holds grade 5 within the BBC staffing structure. Comparable work conducted by their colleagues at the BBC News Channel and BBC World is done by Broadcast Journalists, at grade 7.

There are no other grade 5 BAs at the BBC with the editorial responsibilities of the staff at BBC Parliament.  

Aiden James, the father of chapel at BBC Westminster said:

“This is not about pay, it's about fairness and being valued for what we do. Members want equality with colleagues on the BBC News Channel and World News, where writing, editing and producing content are recognised as the work of grade 7 Broadcast Journalists.
"NUJ members at BBC Parliament love the channel. Its viewing figures have more than doubled in recent years as a result of their hard work. We want it to improve further and grow to serve its audience. Managers can be helped to achieve this by investing in their staff, rather than exploiting the commitment of grade 5 Broadcast Assistants. The NUJ wants the journalism of members at BBC Parliament to be recognised and valued by management. The NUJ wants to see staff at BBC Parliament treated equally to their grade 7 colleagues."

The action will begin at 6am on Wednesday 15 June and last for 24 hours. This will cover the usual live broadcast of the House of Commons including Prime Minister’s Questions, the Business Committee session with Sir Philip Green and coverage of the House of Lords. While the channel controller and his two deputies will attempt to cover the main events, the rest of the coverage, including the Westminster Hall debates, business in the Lords, all the committee hearings, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, will be severely affected.

This is a long-standing issue that journalists have been raising with management for a number of years. They now feel they have no alternative but to take this action. A work to rule will be put in place following the strike.

BBC Parliament provides live and recorded coverage of the parliaments and assemblies across the UK and the European Parliament.  It also produces a range of original programmes and curates BBC archive exploring parliament and politics.

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, bbc parliament, strike, pay, grade, broadcasting assistants