BBC journalists go on strike

2010-11-05 09:40

London -  Thousands of BBC journalists in Britain on Friday walked out in a 48-hour strike over pensions in a move set to knock a string of the broadcaster's flagship shows off air.

The walkout by about 4 000 members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) began at midnight and was reportedly due to cause major disruption, with TV and radio shows enjoyed by millions of Britons pulled entirely or cut back.

Most BBC radio and television news programmes will either not go out or be severely disrupted and the British broadcaster's rolling news channel will air live news bulletins only intermittently, reports said.

Picket lines will be mounted at BBC offices across the country in the first of two strikes planned for this month, with the second due to take place on November 15-16.

Negotiations about proposed pension changes between BBC journalists and management broke down last month, with 70% of the NUJ's members voting against the broadcaster's latest offer on pensions.

At the heart of the dispute are the BBC's plans to reduce a pensions deficit of £1.5bn by capping increases in pensionable pay.

"NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions robbery," said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.

"That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions."

As part of the government's massive programme of spending cuts, the BBC has agreed to take over funding of the world service from the foreign ministry in return for a six-year freeze on the licence fee.

Every householder in Britain with a television or radio must pay the fee, which is the BBC's principal source of funding.

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