BBC journalists to strike on first day of election count in Northern Ireland

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NUJ members at BBC Northern Ireland have announced a 24-hour strike that will commence on the first day of counting in the region’s local government elections.

Almost 83% 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 19.

Voters go to the polls for Northern Ireland’s local council elections on Thursday May 18, with the count taking place on Friday and Saturday at centres across the region.

“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 had resulted in 36 posts being cut, with the prospect of other potential job losses.

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%, 111 members, also backed industrial action short of strike.

Responding to the strike date announcement, a spokesman for BBC NI said: “We continue to engage constructively with staff and the trade unions in the interests of everyone involved and the audiences we serve.”

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