BBC local radio strike paused as members decide on revised plan

  • 02 May 2023

Friday's strike is now off, as members vote on whether to accept new BBC proposals.

Strike action over cuts to BBC local radio has been paused following talks brokered by the arbitrator ACAS.

Members in local radio, local TV and online were due to stage a 24-hour walk out on Friday 5 May to coincide with the results of the local elections. The journalists have now been sent a consultative ballot on whether they are willing to accept a revised proposal from BBC management and end the dispute or to reject it and continue with strike action and the work to rule. This means that from noon on Friday 28 April to Tuesday 9 May the work to rule is paused and the planned strike on Friday 5 May is postponed. If the proposals are rejected, the work to rule will recommence from Wednesday 10 May.

In the original plans the BBC proposed local radio stations would share programmes across the network from 2pm on weekdays and at weekends, meaning that large parts of England would have less than half the 100-hour output per week specific to their local area.

The plans would result in job losses and journalists having to re-apply for their own jobs. The union says the proposals will slowly kill off local radio which has 5.7m loyal listeners.

The revised deal includes removing the risk of redundancy from 300 journalists, new guarantees on redeploying those who will lose their role, plus putting on three extra pairs of weekend breakfast shows. The BBC also agreed to conduct stress risk assessments in each region ahead of roll-out.

In a separate dispute, members working for Radio Foyle in Derry are being balloted over taking industrial action over cuts at the station.

At the union’s Delegate Meeting at the weekend Michelle Stanistreet told members:

“If the BBC cared a jot about its duty to local communities and to the very principles of universality that underpin its relationship with licence fee holders, it would stop and think again.

“Our action to date has been hugely impactful. TV regional news bulletins were taken off air, local radio shows had to be axed. The work to rule has built massive cumulative pressure, not least because it has demonstrated to BBC bosses outside of BBC Local just how much work is done in local BBC sites because of the sheer amount of professionalism, good will, and acting up of members day in day out.

“It’s a result of that pressure that the BBC got back around the table this week, into talks brokered by ACAS, leading to a revised proposal that is going out to all our BBC Local members today. Regardless of where that industrial dispute ends – our campaign to reverse these damaging cuts, and to keep BBC Local radio local, which is building extensive political support and anger, will continue until the BBC sees sense. It’s the same principles that is guiding our campaign against the cuts at Radio Foyle, and why our BBC members across Northern Ireland are currently being balloted for industrial action, with the result due early next week.”

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