Birmingham & Black Country

Striking BBC staff hold rally over Birmingham plans

Bectu BBC cuts rally in Victoria Square, Birmingham
Image caption Striking BBC staff gathered in Victoria Square, Birmingham, in protest at the proposed cuts

Dozens of striking BBC Birmingham staff have held a rally over plans to move national TV and radio programme-making teams from the city.

The proposals, to move 78 posts, according to BBC figures, are part of the corporation's aim to make 20% savings over the next five years.

Shows including Coast and Hairy Bikers would start moving from the city's Mailbox to Bristol by October 2012.

Members of broadcast union Bectu began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday.

The BBC said the 78 jobs were from the information and archives, audio and music and vision factual production.

Bectu's figures were different with a spokesman saying their figures may include "not full-time equivalents" which might account for discrepencies.

The union said vision would have 62 posts move with 28 posts made redundant, audio and music would have 21 posts move and four from information and archives.

Strikers marched from the Mailbox to the rally in Victoria Square on Thursday.

Lucy Pointon, who has worked in information and archives in Birmingham for two-and-a-half years, criticised the plans.

She said: "I think it's disgusting as a second city we are losing network television production."

Susan Curtis, who has worked in the department for the past six-and-a-half years, said: "I don't think it's good enough, they are moving us without a valid business reason."

'Not striking lightly'

Co-worker Steve Crawford, 40, from Northfield in Birmingham, said six of the 10 posts in his area would be lost.

He has two children, aged nine and six, both at school in the city.

He said: "We couldn't possibly move. Our life is here. It would be so disruptive and they are doing really well at school."

A BBC spokesman said: "It is disappointing that Bectu members have gone ahead with industrial action and we remain open to dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Image caption Bectu members held pickets in Birmingham

"This will not alter the fact that the BBC needs to deliver business decisions which safeguard long-term in-house factual production. We apologise to our audience for any disruption to service."

Dave Rhodes, 44, a post-production worker of 15 years, from Bournville, said: "None of us do this lightly, I'm going to lose 12 hours pay which is a big ask after Christmas, but we've got to make people aware of what's happening."

Birmingham recruitment consultant Kay Kaur said because many public sector workers were facing redundancy it was both "fair and unfair at the same time" on BBC staff.

Roy Beckford, an independent music producer from Edgbaston, said: "I don't like to see cutbacks in my city. We are the second city, there ought to be a strong BBC presence here."

The union said about 80 members walked out on Wednesday. The BBC said "just over half of the impacted staff went on strike".

Some Radio 2 and Radio 4 production is also earmarked to move out of the city as part of the plans.

The union claims the proposals are "seriously flawed" and has called for "meaningful consultation" with the BBC.

Anna Murray, Bectu national official, said: "The regional economy will be dealt a body blow and the aspirations of those wanting to enter the industry will be dashed."

The corporation said "engagement with staff and the unions has been ongoing" since the proposals were announced in October 2011.

"Whilst the BBC will need to know whether individuals are prepared to move by early March in some areas in order to plan, there is no requirement to relocate before October 2012, 12 months from the date of announcement," the BBC spokesman said.

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