BBC Radio action could hit Olympics

Industrial action by BBC Radio Outside Broadcasts engineers could affect the BBC’s Olympics coverage, says BECTU.

The action, which is set to start next Thursday 31 July, is in pursuit of a long-standing pay and regrading claim.

Yesterday, BECTU served the BBC with formal notice of continuous industrial action.

“The BBC has failed to act on its promises to resolve long-held grievances.”

The specialist team of radio engineers work on key events resourced from London; almost half of the 23-strong group are currently on assignment in Beijing and will be covered by the industrial action mandate.

Of the staff affected, 78% voted in favour of strike action.

The action will place strict limits on the amount of flexibility staff are willing to offer:

  • shifts over 12 hours long will stop;
  • staff will insist upon at least an 11-hour break between turns of duty;
  • staff will refuse to work more than 6 days out of 7; and
  • hours in excess of 160 in a four week period will be refused.

Staff are seeking an agreement with the BBC which will reward staff, in terms of both pay and grading, whether they are at an early stage in their careers, experienced or more senior members of the team.

If the dispute is not resolved soon, the action could also impact on the BBC’s coverage of the remaining summer festivals, the BBC Proms, Test Cricket and the Ryder Cup.

A BECTU spokesperson said: “The dispute arises because this skilled group of staff have seen their responsibilities and workload increase without pay and regrading to deliver the reward and recognition which they deserve.

“Staff have been patient for a long time now and the BBC has failed to act on its promises to resolve long-held grievances.

“It is hoped that these latest developments will lead to a commitment by management to deliver a long-lasting solution to our members concerns.”

Thursday 24 July 2008