BBC local radio strike suspended and MP blasts BBC management

The planned BBC strike on May 5th will now not go ahead following talks this week between the NUJ and BBC management.

Staff have been informed today that, following detailed discussions over the last two days, there is now an agreement on the table which the NUJ will now ballot its members on.

The current NUJ work-to-rule and the strike action planned for next week will both be suspended while this ballot takes place.

The BBC has agreed to maximize redeployment, extend the notice period to allow presenters and journalists to seek redeployment, and commit to conducting risk assessments for stress and well-being in each region ahead of the roll-out of the local audio and news changes.

Management has also told staff in an email today that they are able to reduce the number of people provisionally at risk of redundancy by about a third.

And in terms of programming, three additional weekend breakfast programmes on both Saturday and Sunday are to be introduced to reduce the size of the areas being served by the new shows in some parts of the country.

Leeds/Sheffield/York will be split from Humberside/Lincolnshire, Radio London will be split from Radio Kent /Sussex/Surrey, and BBC Radio Manchester will be split from Radio Merseyside/Cumbria/Lancashire.

The entire ‘cuts to local radio’ initiative has been receiving much negativity around the industry, on social media, and even in parliament.

This morning, Hull North Labour MP and Chair of Home Affairs Select Committee Diana Johnson said she was “absolutely furious that BBC Radio Humberside is essentially being trashed,” highlighting that local radio content will end at 2pm each day, with no coverage at weekends.

The MP said at her local station, only one presenter has been selected to continue on-air and the rest are facing gagging clauses and fear of losing their reduncancy pay if they speak out.

She added the local radio management won’t listen – saying tht it’s easier to get a meeting with the Prime Minister than it is with the (BBC) Director General; “May I ask the Ministers to do what Burnsy (departing Radio Humberside presenter David Burns) would suggest and get BBC managers to give their heads a wobble and sort this out.”