Flagship BBC news programmes off air after journalists stage walkout over job cuts

Bargain Hunt instead of BBC Breakfast as Beeb's flagship news programmes are hit by journalists' union walkoutStaff have gone on strike over compulsory redundancies at the CorporationToday on Radio 4 and BBC 1's Breakfast among many shows cancelledIndustrial action ends at midnight tonight

By
Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED:

07:49 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:18 GMT, 18 February 2013

Repeats were used to plug huge gaps in BBC news programming today after journalists walked out for 24 hours over the threat of compulsory redundancies.

The Corporation's flagship morning TV show, BBC One's Breakfast, was replaced by Bargain Hunt and Escape to the Country.

Meanwhile already-broadcast documentaries on the resignation of Pope Benedict and a food panel show replaced the Today Programme on Radio 4.

Later BBC 2's World News will be replaced by an episode of Coast and Radio 4's World at One by a documentary of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Replacements: Instead of being greeted by BBC Breakfast viewers were instead shown an episode of Bargain Hunt as the newsroom emptied after a strike

Replacements: Instead of being greeted by BBC Breakfast viewers were instead shown an episode of Bargain Hunt as the newsroom emptied after a strike

Anger: Staff on the picket line outside BBC Birmingham are some of many protesting outside offices nationwide today

Anger: Staff on the picket line outside BBC Birmingham are some of many protesting outside offices nationwide today

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general
secretary, led journalists out of the building at the BBC's central
London studios at midnight at the start of the walkout.

The union said jobs were set to be axed across the corporation, including BBC Scotland, Five Live, the Asian Network and the World Service.

NUJ members started a work to rule last week and stepped up the action with a strike, which was supported by other unions.

The dispute began in Scotland but was escalated after the union said compulsory redundancies were being planned in other parts of the corporation.

The BBC said it could not speculate on possible disruption to programmes and is filling gaps as and when.

Absent: Presenters Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid were not at work today after a strike meant BBC Breakfast was off the air

Absent: Presenters Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid were not on the air today after a strike meant BBC Breakfast was cancelled

Picket lines were mounted outside offices across the UK and the union said the strike was being well supported.

Ms Stanistreet, said: 'NUJ members across the BBC are taking action to defend jobs and quality journalism at the corporation. They are angry and frustrated at the poor decisions being taken at the top of the BBC – decisions that are leading to journalists being forced out of their jobs and quality journalism and programming compromised.

'Instead of making sure that the redeployment process works properly in all areas of the BBC, managers are prepared to waste public money on needless redundancies and sacrifice the livelihoods of experienced and talented journalists, at the same time as advertising other jobs externally.

'It's particularly disappointing that the BBC has failed to engage meaningfully in attempts to resolve this dispute – an abdication of responsibility for a public service broadcaster.'

Strike: A man enters Broadcasting House in London as BBC journalists started a 24-hour strike today over compulsory redundancies

Strike: A man enters Broadcasting House in London as BBC journalists started a 24-hour strike today over compulsory redundancies

Casualty: The industrial action meant that the Today Programme, presented by James Naughtie among others, was off the air today

Casualty: The industrial action meant that the Today Programme, presented by James Naughtie among others, was off the air

The union has asked the BBC for a
moratorium on all job cuts for a six month period, to allow for talks
and negotiation with the new Director General.

The NUJ said 7,000 jobs had been cut at the BBC since 2004, while a further 2,000 are being lost under cost-saving plans.

A BBC spokesman said: 'We are disappointed that the NUJ has gone ahead with today’s strike and apologise to our audience for the disruption to services. Unfortunately industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies.

'We have made considerable progress in reducing the need for compulsory redundancies through volunteers, redeployment and cancelling vacant positions and we will continue with these efforts.'