UPDATED: BBC staff will stage their first 24-hour strike from 11AM on March 15, which has been timed to coincide with the UK’s government’s Budget. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has confirmed that the Coronation and Eurovision are also targets for industrial action.
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.”
PREVIOUS: BBC employees have voted to stage their biggest strike in 13 years in protest over the corporation’s changes to local content in England.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have warned that they could target King Charles III’s Coronation in May when they down tools.
Some 83% voted in favor of strike in a postal ballot, with the remaining 17% not supporting a walkout. The turnout was 69%, which was higher than some were expecting.
An NUJ meeting will take place later today to decide on a course of action after a mandate was secured for industrial action.
Deadline first reported in January that it was “inevitable” that employees would stage a walkout amid fury at proposals to scale back local television and radio programming across the country.
The BBC has argued that funding for local content is being maintained, but it is reprioritizing £19M ($23M) of resources from traditional broadcast services to online and multimedia production to “keep pace with changing audience expectations.” This includes growing local news online and investing in investigative reporting.
BBC staff have not staged a major strike since 2010, when there was a 48-hour walkout over a pensions dispute. Flagship shows, including Newsnight and Breakfast, fell off air as star presenters including Fiona Bruce joined the protest.
The BBC said: “We are disappointed at the outcome of the ballot. Our local plans are about delivering an even better service to communities across England, reflecting how audiences use the BBC, strengthening our online provision and increasing the impact of our journalism.
“We have consulted extensively with the NUJ over recent months and adapted our plans in response to feedback. We have assured teams working across our 39 BBC Local bases that we will maintain overall investment and staffing levels in local services and we’ll work hard to minimise the risk of compulsory redundancies.”
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