BBC strike: Staff join picket lines in Newcastle and Middlesbrough

NUJ picket line at BBC Broadcasting House, Newcastle
Members of the National Union of Journalists are striking against proposed BBC cuts across local radio stations. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Members of staff at the BBC are on strike over proposed cuts to local radio.

Workers from BBC Newcastle and Tees joined picket lines on Wednesday 15 March as part of a 24-hour strike across BBC England.

BBC local radio and online services may be severely hit according to picket supervisor, Andrew Hartley, who said that Look North and other local and regional programmes could be taken off air.

Strike action began at 11am with picket lines situated at BBC's Broadcasting House on Barrack Road, Newcastle and BBC Radio Tees on Newport Road, Middlesbrough.

Some journalists have walked out in objection to cuts being made to BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Tees and other BBC local radio stations around England.

Myles Ashby, the NUJ representative for Radio Newcastle, said: "This isn't about pay, or pensions it's about programmes. And that's what we care about. We believe in our communities and we want to serve the people of our communities as best as we possibly can.

"We do that by offering local programmes throughout the day, not just at certain times of the day and certainly not by defaulting to an all-England show for the BBC. People won't like that."

NUJ's General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, on the picket line at Broadcasting House, London, over changes to local radio programming. Credit: PA

The NUJ's general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: "NUJ members working at BBC Local across England are taking industrial action on Wednesday and Thursday in a 24-hour strike that is about the future of quality local news in the many diverse communities the BBC serves.

"Plans to axe radio shows and reduce resources have caused dismay and anger amongst NUJ members who know the true value of trusted local news.

“Rather than allow even more programme cuts and cancellations to kick in, the NUJ calls on the BBC to engage fully with the concerns of members who work across BBC Local, and come up with a workable compromise and sustainable solution.

"This whirling chaos is creating profound damage to the BBC’s reputation - something that is causing mounting concern and frustration amongst journalists across the corporation. 

"Freelance, staff journalists and presenters at the BBC have been put in a stressful and invidious position with no sign of this crisis abating."

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that audiences will experience some changes to local tv and radio services in England as a result of industrial action by the National Union of Journalists. We have tried to minimise disruption as much as possible.

“We are obviously disappointed that the strike has gone ahead. 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.

BBC journalists are taking strike action against proposed cuts to local radio programmes. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"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.” 

An NUJ spokesperson said: "The broadcaster must recognise the damaging impact of recent decisions and engage fully with the union, to reach a solution in the dispute over cuts to local radio."

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