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Trades unionists rallied to save the BBC in Birmingham

13 January 2012

A strike by BBC technicians over plans to move production of TV and radio programmes disrupted the corporation's output today. Radio 4 was not able to transmit its scheduled Farming Today programme as a result of a walkout by members of Equity's sister union BECTU.

Equity members were out in central Birmingham yesterday (19 July) supporting their BECTU colleagues. The picture shows Equity Midlands Area Committee Chair Tracey Briggs addressing the rally. Equity members in the Midlands oppose the move of programme-making away from Birmingham fearing that it will mean a loss of work in the area and the beginning of the end of Birmingham as a production hub.

The BBC's dispute with BECTU arises from plans to move large parts of production for TV and radio from Birmingham to Bristol in moves announced last October as part of Delivering Quality First. Union members are protesting at the plans and at the BBC's refusal to enter into negotiations. Around half of the union's membership affected by the dispute voted overwhelming last week in favour of strike action and action short of strike. Under current BBC plans, 22% of local radio output will go, at a time when listening is up. Current affairs and investigative programming will be cut – with 40% reductions outside London. By the end of 2012, there will be almost no television or radio made for the national networks from Birmingham.

BECTU national officer Anna Murray is reported in the Independent to have said: "The BBC's plans make no sense - no money will be saved and production capacity and talent for the Midlands will be lost. The regional economy will be dealt a body blow and the aspirations of those wanting to enter the industry will be dashed."

BECTU has warned that further strike dates will be called if the BBC fails to respond to the union's demand for talks.

Equity members in the  area have been working hard with the local politicians to build a coalition against the BBC cuts. Local MPs denouncing the BBC's decision to cut programming in Birmingham. Read the full story on the Birmingham Post's website.

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