In opposition to proposed pension cuts, hundreds of BBC journalist stage a 48 hour strike over the weekend and now plan to take further action, organising strikes for November 15 and 16 and more over the Christmas period.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which has 4,100 members at the BBC, voted by a 70 percent majority to reject the cuts, which management says are needed to tackle a pension deficit of more than Ã‚Â£1.5 billion.
An NUJ spokesperson said journalists would have to “pay more, work longer and receive lower pensions”. General Secretary Jeremy Dear declared, “NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions robbery.”
A journalist picketing the BBC’s White City centre in London over the weekend explained to World Socialist Web Site reporters, “The BBC wants to dismantle the final salary pension scheme and has offered a career average scheme as a replacement. It offers little protection against the ravages of inflation. The staff are being asked to pay for what has been the largesse of BBC management over the last 10 to 20 years. They are all on six-figure salaries and massive pensions.
“It is the ordinary people at the BBC who are taking a massive hit. We think we are being used as a Trojan horse by the government, because if we accept the end of our pension scheme there is not much hope for the rest of the public sector. Next in the firing line will be council workers, teachers and civil servants.
In London, journalists picketed the Television Centre, White City and Broadcasting House where the vast majority of BBC staff are employed. Strike action also took place at the corporation’s seven regional centres in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester and at numerous local offices.
The NUJ’s intention is to make a deal as long as benefits are not reduced “significantly”, as Dear made clear when he said, “BBC journalists are not asking for higher pensions. They are not even saying they wouldn’t consider paying more or working longer for a fair pension settlement.”