BBC journalists to strike during local elections over radio cuts

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: James Manning/PA</span>
Photograph: James Manning/PA

BBC journalists in England have announced a second 24-hour strike, to run from midnight on 5 May to coincide with the reporting of local election results, in a dispute over cuts to local radio.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the broadcaster’s management want local radio stations to share programmes across the network from 2pm on weekdays and at weekends, going from more than 100 hours of local programming on every station each week down to 40.

The plan will result in a number of job losses and in journalists having to re-apply for their jobs, and the NUJ believes it will “kill off local radio”.

In response, the BBC said it planned to modernise local services and said there would be no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.

It will be the second stoppage by members of the NUJ, after a strike on budget day on 15 March. The union has approached the arbitration service Acas to see if it can help resolve the dispute.

Paul Siegert, the NUJ’s national broadcasting organiser, said: “Video didn’t kill off radio and nor will digital. We understand that digital services need to be improved but it shouldn’t come at the expense of local radio, which is at the heart of the BBC’s public service remit.

“To go from over 100 hours a week of local programming on every radio station down to just 40 is unacceptable. People want local, relevant news that is accessible, and NUJ members are prepared to stand up and fight for that.

“Once local radio stops being local then it is the beginning of the end and BBC bosses don’t have the right to destroy an institution that has existed for over 50 years.”

The strike on budget day was followed by a work-to-rule that the union said was having a significant impact.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that the industrial action is taking place. We have a plan to modernise local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.

“Our goal is a local service across TV, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities. We will continue to engage with the trade union and do everything possible to minimise the impact on staff.”