Budget day coverage to be hit by BBC strike
NUJ members working for BBC Local have overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action over the corporation’s plans to cut local radio and have called a 24-hour strike starting at 11am on March 15, until the same time the following day, which will hit coverage of the Spring budget.
A work to rule commencing at the close of the first strike action was also agreed. Further strike action will be announced in due course and options being considered are coverage of the local elections, Coronation and the Eurovision contest.
The ballot of 1,000 members across BBC Local resulted in 83 per cent of members voting in favour of strike action and 92 per cent voting in favour of action short of a strike with a turnout of 69 per cent. Those striking will be journalists working for local radio, regional TV and online in England.
The BBC wants local radio stations to share programming after 2pm on weekdays and at weekends. NUJ members have robustly opposed these changes, which would result in a diminution of local content and up to four radio stations sharing the same output.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“This emphatic result demonstrates the strength of feeling amongst BBC members and their determination not to stand by and see local radio output dismantled. I would urge the BBC to take stock and meaningfully engage so that we can come to a solution that acknowledges the vital role that quality, relevant and genuinely local news plays in our public service broadcaster. The BBC’s focus on digital content and delivery shouldn’t be at the expense of local news and journalism.”
Paul Siegert, the NUJ’s national broadcasting organiser, said:
“This result and the decision to take strike action shows overwhelmingly that the BBC’s proposals do not have the backing of its journalists. Local radio is supposed to be local. That is its USP and one of the main reasons why 5.7m people listen to it every week. NUJ members are not opposed to the BBC investing in digital services, but it should not come at the expense of local radio and the communities it serves. We urge the BBC to get back around the table and start talking to us to try and find a way forward. No one wants to take strike action but the future of local radio is at stake and so our members are left with no option.”