By David Young, PA
NUJ members at BBC Northern Ireland have announced a 24-hour strike that will commence on the first day of counting in the North’s local government elections.
Almost 83 per cent of those who voted in a recent National Union of Journalists (NUJ) ballot backed strike action in opposition to cutbacks at Radio Foyle. The 24-hour walkout will begin at 12.15am on Friday, May 19th.
Voters go to the polls for Northern Ireland’s local council elections on Thursday, May 18th, with the count taking place on Friday and Saturday at centres across the North.
Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: “Members have been left with no option than to head to pickets in defence of their jobs and the much-loved programmes listeners tune into daily.
“Yet again, the BBC is pursuing savings and drastic changes at the expense of quality journalism it claims to pride itself on.
“The NUJ wants to reach a solution that resolves the dispute and asks the BBC to return to talks with a fair offer members can accept.”
Radio Foyle’s flagship morning show was axed last month and replaced with a half-hour news programme.
The NUJ said the corporation’s bid to save £2.3 million (€2.6 million) had resulted in 36 posts being cut, with the prospect of other potential job losses.
#NUJ members at BBC Northern Ireland will take part in 24hr strike action on Friday 19 May, opposing ill-thought BBC cuts to jobs and programmes. Solidarity with journalists defending quality journalism, jobs and shows loved by listeners. ✊✊#SaveBBCNI https://t.co/5G3w6cV1Lf pic.twitter.com/bQAM8AMNzI
— NUJ (@NUJofficial) May 12, 2023
The union said the restructuring plans would impact resources and the ability to deliver quality programmes across Northern Ireland.
The BBC has said the reconfiguration is part of a strategy to invest in online services, including the iPlayer, and has insisted compulsory redundancies have been avoided.
The NUJ ballot result was announced last week.
Of 116 valid votes cast, 96 NUJ members in BBC NI said they were prepared to take part in strike action.
Almost 96 per cent, 111 members, also backed industrial action short of strike.
BBC NI has been approached for comment.