Radio Merseyside journalists on strike

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NUJ Father of the Chapel, Marc Gaier stands beside TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady (L) and assistant general secretary Paul Nowak (R) as they protest against cuts ©BBC

NUJ Father of the Chapel, Marc Gaier, stands beside TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady (L) and assistant general secretary Paul Nowak (R) as they protest against cuts © NUJ

Journalists at BBC Radio Merseyside are today protesting against compulsory redundancies across the corporation in a 24-hour strike action, causing disruption to the station’s programming.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) set up the strike after a dispute with the organisation surrounding the redeployment of its staff members. The decision came after the BBC announced plans to cut around 2,000 jobs over the next five years in a bid to save money.

The NUJ had requested for a delay on all job cuts for six months so that discussions could be held over work posts but they say the BBC did not reply to this request.

The Merseyside action began at around midnight last night and will end at midnight tonight, with journalists and union members teaming up with protesters nationwide to support and defend fellow colleagues across the corporation.

Reporter at BBC Radio Merseyside and NUJ Father of the Chapel, Marc Gaier, told JMU Journalism that he feels let down and believes it is wrong that jobs are continually being advertised whilst current staff are being made redundant.

He said: “The BBC has an agreement with the unions to redeploy staff wherever possible and also to make them aware of any vacancies in order for them to get a chance to apply for them.

“In certain parts of the BBC this isn’t being complied with and the BBC is firing people while they are still hiring and we feel that the people who could be out of a job by the end of March should be given a chance to at least be interviewed for those positions. Until the BBC is prepared to agree with the unions, we feel we have no other option but to strike.”

The cuts are set to affect NUJ jobs at BBC Scotland, Radio Five Live, The Asian Network, Newsbeat and the World Service.

The walkout has already caused disruption in TV and radio broadcasting programmes, including Radio 4 and BBC One’s Breakfast show. BBC Radio Merseyside broadcast Radio Lancashire’s output until 1pm and plans to use pre-recorded material for the rest of the day as its main presenters join the strikers.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Unfortunately industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies.

“We have made considerable progress in reducing the need for compulsory redundancies through volunteers, redeployment and cancelling vacant positions and we will continue with these efforts.”

About Michaela Routledge, JMU Journalism