UK industrial action: What strikes are coming up?
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Fed-up BBC employees are “really p***ed off” with how they are being treated while millions of pounds are “wasted” on the broadcaster’s highest-paid talent, insiders have told Express.co.uk. BBC sources have detailed frustration felt by staff, claiming it is “not a level playing field” in terms of pay, freelance work and promotions. One insider described the current mood as “chaotic” with “fed-up” workers’ morale hit by “so many cuts to local services”.
Another said: “A lot of people are really p***ed off with how the BBC treats its staff – especially in the regions.
“We’re not paid mega bucks – far from it. They cut a lot of it to the bone. And yet they waste £1.3million on paying Gary Lineker.”
The claims come a day after BBC local services were disrupted by a 24-hour strike over radio cuts, with regional TV programmes also pulled off-air.
National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members working for BBC Local launched the action in response to plans to merge some radio shows in a move the union denounced as a “raiding of budgets”.
The broadcaster said on Wednesday it would try “to minimise disruption as much as possible”.
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NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It’s not simply a question about jobs and conditions for our members – they believe passionately in the value that quality local content brings to their audiences, journalism that is trusted and relied upon in the communities they serve.
“The BBC’s raiding of local radio budgets to fund its Digital First strategy is wrongheaded and risks undermining a vital part of our public service broadcasting.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk about the proposed budget changes, a BBC employee claimed “hundreds of staff working in radio are having to reapply for their jobs”.
They said: “It’s the hypocrisy of it all – especially when it comes to money. Everyone is on pay bands at the BBC and after a set amount of time and as long as you are doing your job properly you should be on 33 percent above the minimum for that band.
“But it’s not happening. A lot of people are acting up (which is where you perform a job that’s above your pay grade) and they aren’t getting promoted – sometimes for years. They get a bit of extra pay but it’s nothing major. There’s just a complete lack of progression.”
Speaking about attitudes of senior management towards regional staff, they added: “Tim Davie comes across Mr Nice Guy whenever he is on TV and in public but in every staff meeting I’ve seen him in he is really dismissive.
“We had a meeting a few months ago about the proposed cuts to radio and the way he spoke it was a foregone conclusion.”
The decision led to a mass mutiny among sports presenters with many refusing to host their shows.
It also follows demands for BBC Chairman Richard Sharp to resign after his relationship with former PM Boris Johnson sparked an investigation into his appointment. Mr Sharp denies wrongdoing.
Responding to the furore a BBC insider said: “It’s not a level playing field. The way the BBC is run, it is not fair about Gary Lineker and Richard Sharp. If anyone on news did that they would get sacked in a second.
“People are leaving the organisation because you can’t do side gigs – even if there is no conflict of interest. And yet if you’re ‘talent’ like Lineker you can do whatever you want.”
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Despite their claims, the employee added: “I still think the BBC is a great organisation and does a fantastic job but it is struggling at the moment.
“It doesn’t know who it is. There is an obsession with building a younger audience but most of our listeners and readers are older and we’ve got to serve them too. And you can’t juggle both if you are constantly having your budgets cut.”
Another employee, who works in news, said they were forced to police themselves on social media as per the company’s guidelines.
They said: “You have to be very careful about what you say and what you do because you do not know who is watching and who is listening.”
Of the strike action, a BBC spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We are obviously disappointed that the strike has gone ahead. We have a plan to modernise local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.
“Our goal is a local service across TV, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities.
“We will continue to engage with the trade union and do everything possible to minimise the impact on staff.”
In response to the claims made by the insider, a BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC prides itself in creating an environment where all staff can thrive and produce their best work.
“We have a package of measures to ensure fair pay progression and there are established internal channels for those who wish to raise concerns about their employment terms.”
Speaking in reference to Gary Lineker on Monday, the BBC’s Director-General Tim Davie said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.
“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression.
“That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles. The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.
“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs. The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.
“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.
“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
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