IFJ and EFJ Back Strike by BBC Journalists against Compulsory Redundancies

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

losing theirs."

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

recent developments."

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

For more

information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 journalists in 131 countries