Journalists walk out at midnight over pensions

A proposed strike by BBC staffers belonging to the National Union of Journalists is expected to create a news blackout at the pubcaster, with members due to walk out today and Saturday over pension plan changes.

The stoppage, by 4,100 NUJ members, was set to begin at midnight Thursday. Another strike is planned for Nov. 15 and 16 unless management and the union reach agreement.

The dispute arises from the broadcaster’s plan to cut a £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) pensions deficit by capping rises in pensionable pay beginning in April.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said, “NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions’ robbery.

“That hasn’t changed. The BBC has now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions.”

BBC director general Mark Thompson wrote in an email to staff, “Strikes aren’t going to reduce the pension deficit or make the need for radical pension reform go away.”

All the BBC’s popular TV and radio news programs like “Breakfast,” “Newsnight” and “Today” face blackouts, with the broadcaster planning a skeleton operation featuring brief hourly updates.

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