BBC journalists, technicians to strike

Action prompted by compulsory redundancies

LONDON — The BBC is heading for a 24-hour strike that unions claim will cause serious disruption to news shows.

In all, 600 technical staff have voted to walk out Feb. 26 over compulsory job cuts.

Unions said the spat revolves around fewer than 10 layoffs among BBC journalists.

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph & Theater Union official Luke Crawley said: “The BBC has achieved almost 4,000 job losses through voluntary measures, and it seems madness to try to force through fewer than 10 compulsory redundancies.

“Our members are intent on taking strike action to protect their colleagues.”

Meanwhile, 4,000 members of the National Union of Journalists also are preparing to strike on Feb. 26.

NUJ broadcasting official Paul McLaughlin said: “We are calling on the BBC to see sense even at this late stage because we have offered sensible solutions to all of the outstanding cases. Management intransigence seems to be the cause of this dispute.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We note the decision with regret, but we have an obligation to license fee payers to implement our value-for-money efficiency savings.

“The BBC remains committed to trying to achieve these savings without the need for compulsory redundancies. We are still in discussions with BECTU and the NUJ about how this might be achieved.”

If the strikes go ahead, it will be the second time programs have been disrupted by industrial action at the BBC in the past two years.

The last walkout that played havoc with schedules took place in May 2005.

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