European Journalists Pledge Support for BBC Staff After Massive Vote for Strike Action

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional organisation the European Federation of Journalists today gave its full backing to the workforce at the BBC, which has voted by a heavy majority to confront management over plans to slash 4,000 jobs.


The EFJ, which represents around 250,000 journalists across Europe, says the ballot represents a “massive vote in defence of public service values and quality media.”


“The BBC’s future is at stake as well as its reputation as the world’s leading broadcaster,” said Arne König, the EFJ Chair. “The journalists of Europe will stand shoulder to shoulder with their BBC colleagues if they are forced to go on strike. Now is the time for the BBC to get the message to negotiate in a meaningful way with its staff.”


Next month, the IFJ is organising a special event to discuss the BBC dispute and the crisis for broadcasting in Italy in Rome at the time of the international meeting of the IFJ Executive Committee.


“The fight for quality broadcasting in both private and public media is one of the greatest challenges facing journalism today,” said König. “Our colleagues at the BBC have declared their intention to stand and fight and we will do everything we can to make sure they win.”


BBC journalists who are members of the EFJ’s affiliate the National Union of Journalists, voted by a margin of 84 per cent to go on strike unless last-ditch talks can find a solution to the cuts proposed by Director General Mark Thompson. Other workers at the corporation, in membership of the unions BECTU and AMICUS also voted heavily in favour of strike action.


The first announcement of the job cuts was made in December 2004, and then again in March 2005 the management announced additional lay-offs. The industrial dispute began last month when BBC Director General rejected union calls for meaningful negotiations over planned job losses, such as a 90-day moratorium on progressing the cuts and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no sell-offs.


The management say the cuts will lead to more investments in programming but the unions insist that cuts in the newsroom and programming areas will seriously affect the quality of BBC output. The unions are meeting today to decide on the next steps.


For further information contact Jeremy Dear on 020 7843 3728 or 07855 384287 or Paul McLaughlin on 07803 050865, or go to www.nuj.org.uk


You can also register your opposition to the cuts by e-mailing Mark Thompson at mark.thompson@bbc.co.uk