BBC journalists have staged a 24-hour strike protesting at compulsory redundancies.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) walked out after Sunday’s programming, causing disruptions to BBC’s radio and TV news output.
The BBC is a major broadcaster across Africa, where transmissions have traditionally come from the UK, the Lesotho Relay Station and the Indian Ocean Relay Station on Seychelles. Much of the English broadcasts is taken up by specialist programming for and from Africa, namely “Network Africa”, “Focus on Africa” and “Africa Have Your Say”.
MUJ said jobs, mainly affecting the World Service, Five Alive, the Asian Network and BBC Scotland, were set to be axed across the corporation.
According to the BBC’s Sophie Hutchinson, NUJ called the industrial action after it failed to reach an agreement with the corporation’s management over the redeployment of 30 staff members facing compulsory redundancy.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, explained: “NUJ members across the BBC are taking action to defend jobs and quality journalism at the corporation. They are angry and frustrated at the poor decisions being taken at the top of the BBC – decisions that are leading to journalists being forced out of their jobs and quality journalism and programming compromised.”
A BBC spokesperson told reporters that the broadcaster recognises “how frustrating and difficult situations involving redundancies can be,” adding that it was disappointed by the industrial action.
“We are working hard to ensure that we succeed in getting staff redeployed wherever we can and will continue to work with the unions to ensure that their members receive the right redeployment support,” the spokesman said.
According to the NUJ, which has over 3,400 members at the BBC, some 7,000 jobs have been lost at the BBC since 2004.
“Instead of making sure that the redeployment process works properly in all areas of the BBC, managers are prepared to waste public money on needless redundancies and sacrifice the livelihoods of experienced and talented journalists, at the same time as advertising other jobs externally,” Stanistreet said, adding that it is disappointing that the BBC has failed to resolve the dispute.
The broadcaster is further cutting nearly 2,000 jobs over five years as part of its cost-saving plans.
The BBC told AFP it was too early to speculate on how services might be affected, adding: “Our priority is to deliver the scheduled services to viewers and listeners”.