BBC journalists strike over cuts, quality and job losses

By staff writers
February 18, 2013

BBC journalists are striking across the country today (Monday 18 February) in protest against cuts which will severely will hit the scope and quality of the Corporation's work.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is struggling to save jobs at BBC Scotland, Newsbeat, Five Live, at the Big Screens, Asian Network and the World Service which are due to go within months through a programme of compulsory redundancies.

In all, the BBC plans to cut 2,000 posts, having already shelved more than 7,000 jobs since 2004.

Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ General Secretary, who led a walkout of union and non-union members at BBC headquarters at midnight, explained: "NUJ members across the BBC cannot believe why their management is failing to redeploy colleagues at risk – at the very same time as advertising job vacancies.

"It is a monumental waste of talent and experience. Paying needless redundancies is a waste of public money. This not just about self-interest. BBC journalists care deeply about the quality of programming and the corporation's duty as a public service broadcaster.

"That is why so many are already working way beyond their contracted hours and are 'acting up' without financial reward, and why stress levels across the BBC are at an all-time high."

The BBC's cost-saving programme is ironically entitled 'Delivering Quality First'. But journalists and other media workers say that the management-speak cannot disguise the fact that it will mean further reductions in quality and output.

The BBC has been under considerable pressure to cut its budget under the government's austerity programme. But it has also faced criticism over the Newnight debacle and other shortcomings, which insiders say are in part produced by a baroque management system and departmental reductions.

BBC services in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and in local radio are among those most threatened by the latest round of cuts. Both TV and radio is being hit. The Asian Network has already had its staff cut by half and the World Service is also suffering further cuts.

The one-day strike will end at 23.59 on 18 February and is causing major disruption to programming across all networks of the corporation.

"It was clear that the action was already making a strong impact as managers arrived to staff graveyard shifts. Despite last-ditch efforts by some senior staff to strong-arm staff, including putting pressure on freelances by suggesting their future work would be affected, the strike was strongly supported by staff and freelance members alike at New Broadcasting House," the union reported earlier today.

* Letters of regarding cuts and redundancies can be sent to the BBC Trust at: trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk

* An EDM (Early Day Motion) in parliament, opposing the cuts, can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1071

* NUJ strike updates: http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=2815

[Ekk/3]

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