The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) announced last week (10 August) that BBC members have renewed their union’s mandate for strike action over cuts to local radio, but their union will continue talks with management. NUJ members at BBC Local in England, in local radio, regional TV and online, have taken strike action on three occasions and are continuing to operate a work to rule.
Overwhelming support for union action
On a turnout of 64%, 70% voted to take part in strike action and 83% said they were prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike.
The BBC’s plans will reduce local content by almost half, with stations set to share more content and broadcast less programming unique to their area. As the BBC has continued to mandate the changes, many popular presenters have lost their jobs or have resigned. Many more staff are facing the threat of redundancy in the coming weeks – something the NUJ argues is unnecessary and counterproductive.
The work to rule comes as a result of the BBC’s announcement last October that 139 redundancies were to be made across local radio services and all radio staff compelled to reapply for their own positions.
Plans for the restructuring of BBC services include more investment in digital journalism.
Democracy depends on strong local journalism
The NUJ has drawn wide support from MPs and councillors across the political spectrum, as well as charities and community groups who say the BBC’s local radio service is a crucial staple of local and national democracy, binding communities together and providing vital relevant and genuinely local news.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“The BBC needs to sit up and take notice of the strong feeling of BBC staff, along with politicians and community groups across the country. If they thought this dispute was waning, they are sadly mistaken. This is a strong result in an important dispute in support of jobs, but also importantly in support of the BBC’s role in providing a service to all local communities. We now have a further mandate for strike action. But of course, we would prefer to reach a negotiated settlement with the BBC and resolve to continue the present talks with management.”
New action will include a boycott of the BBC’s ‘My Conversations’, a key HR service at the organisation. The work to rule has already repeatedly pulled many programmes off air.
This article has been adapted from a press release by the NUJ.