The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group,
the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joined journalists and their
organisations in the UK urging the BBC management to resolve through negotiations the
dispute with staff over the corporation's plans for compulsory redundancies at
the World Service and BBC Monitoring.
The dispute has led to today's strike across the BBC where thousands of
journalists walked out, causing widespread disruptions to radio and TV programmes. The
National Union of Journalists in UK and Ireland (NUJ), an IFJ affiliate, says
that its members at the BBC voted in favour of industrial action last month after the management
refused to negotiate alternatives to compulsory redundancies.
"The massive support for today's strike shows the journalists'
understandable frustration at the management appalling behaviour," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ
President. "There is simply no basis for their refusal to engage with
journalists' representatives in resolving this dispute and saving jobs. This
attitude is not acceptable and we fully support our colleagues' action."
The BBC management condemned the strike, warning that "Industrial action will
not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory
redundancies, following significant cuts to the central Government grants that
support the World Service and BBC Monitoring." But the NUJ dismisses the claim,
saying that compulsory redundancies concern a few cases as there are many
journalists willing to leave the BBC voluntarily. The union accused BBC managers
of provoking the strike and feathering their own nests.
"It is shameful that the BBC
is provoking a strike over a handful of job losses," said Michelle Stanistreet,
NUJ General Secretary. "There are so many people who want to leave the BBC that
this could be resolved through negotiations. Jobs are being saved and created at management level, but journalists are
The union further questions the need to impose compulsory redundancies on journalists when
the BBC World Service has been granted an extra £2.2 million by the Foreign
Office for the next three years to mitigate the cuts. In the meantime, top pay
at the BBC is 21.5 times the median salary and 47 times the lowest salary,
says the NUJ.
The EFJ also rounded on the BBC management,
describing its attitude as a threat against public services in Europe.
"The BBC attitude risks setting a
dangerous precedent for other public service organisations in Europe for which support from governments
is eroding," said EFJ President Arne König.
The NUJ has also called for a review of the decision to freeze the BBC licence fee for
the next six years in the wake of the hacking scandal at The News of the World newspaper which shut down last Sunday. The journalists'
organisation challenges the deal between the BBC management and the Coalition
Government which led to deep cuts in the corporation's budget and caused the
axing of language services at the World Service.
In a statement, the NUJ indicated that "Rupert Murdoch and News International
executives were exerting huge influence on key government figures. It is vital that the dodgy licence fee deal should now be re-examined as a matter of urgency in light of
The IFJ supports the NUJ call
and warns of public backlash over a deal which appears to put Murdoch's
commercial interests above the British public's right to a proper and fit broadcaster.
"It is an open secret that
Rupert Murdoch had a vested interest in securing a financial advantage over the
BBC in the British Television industry," added Boumelha. "The sheer relief from
his BskyB bid's end will be short lived if the BBC future is called into
question as a result of his involvement in the licence freeze
deal. That needs to be reviewed in an independent and impartial way."
For the latest on BBC strike, pleasevisit the NUJ special page here
information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than
600.000 journalists in 131 countries