the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

9 January 2012

BECTU members at the BBC's Birmingham Mailbox site have voted for strike action.

The vote amongst staff in Vision, Audio and Music and Information and Archives, concluded on 6 January, was overwhelming in favour of both strike action (majority of 87.2%) and action short of strike (majority of 97.4%).

More than 47 per cent of members eligible to vote took part.

No to loss of production in Birmingham

BECTU members are challenging the BBC's decision to move substantial parts of production for TV and radio away from the Birmingham site to Bristol, a move announced at the same time as the Delivering Quality First proposals last October.

Members are angry that the BBC has failed to consult staff on the plans or to listen to alternatives they may want to propose.

Commenting on the outcome of the ballot, national official Anna Murray said:

"BECTU believed that it was important that those who face losing their jobs or relocation should have an opportunity to make their voices heard via the negotiation process but as the BBC was unwilling to reconsider its plans or lift the programme move implementation dates, we had no alternative but to ballot for industrial action.

"Whilst those most affected have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action, we know that their colleagues in other departments, who await the outcome of the BBC Trust consultation over DQF plans to reduce local radio by 22 per cent and halve the Asian Network, are fully behind the campaign to keep network radio and TV output from the Mailbox and will want to support any action taken by members in Vision, Audio and Music and Information and Archives."

Talks with local representatives and members are taking place this week to determine next steps.

In response to the relocation plans union members launched a lively local campaign and appealed to local authorities and MPs for their support.

A campaign statement issued in November stated:

"Just having regional TV news here is not sufficient: Birmingham is our [England's] second biggest city, we should be making television that reflects our region's importance to the UK economy. At a time when people are demanding more insight into rural and environmental issues, BBC Birmingham should be at the forefront of meeting this challenge," says a BECTU campaign statement.

"The BBC's plans also want to rob the centre of content it provides for Radio 4 including Farming Today, The Food Programme, Costing the Earth and Ramblings. And with other production for Radio 2 set to move to the BBC's new base in Salford this would leave only production of The Archers at the Mailbox.

"... whilst this [The Archers] is clearly a 'treasure' it doesn't feel like a 'critical mass' for a sustainable future. It also means that the radio drama studio in Birmingham, a first class facility, will be mothballed for most of the time. This is a waste but so is the cost of building the facilities that will be needed for the other output to come from Bristol".

Read more about BECTU's campaign