Belfast Telegraph

BBC Northern Ireland staff to join strike on first day of Commonwealth Games

By Rebecca Black

Staff from BBC Northern Ireland will take part in a strike on the day the Commonwealth Games open.

They will join thousands of BBC journalists, technicians and other workers to stage a 12-hour walkout next Wednesday in a row over pay.

Members of the National Union of Journalists, Bectu and Unite will strike around midday on July 23, followed by a work to rule.

The move follows overwhelming votes in favour of industrial action in protest at an offer of £650 for those earning less than £50,000 a year and £500 for employees on more than £50,000.

Union leaders said staff had suffered five years of below inflation pay deals, adding that the BBC could afford to pay more.

Members of the NUJ voted by 77% in favour of a strike, while those in Bectu backed action by 79%.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "The decisive turnout and result clearly demonstrates that journalists across the BBC are not prepared to put up with paltry pay deals any longer, while those running the corporation continue to enjoy their lavish salary and perks at the same time as dishing out lectures about the need for staff to 'get austerity'."

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of Bectu, said: "The BBC can find money for vanity projects, but cannot find money for its own staff, whose pay has dropped by 10% in the last five years."

Ms Stanistreet said: "When it comes to executive perks, lavish salaries for managers and jobs for their mates, the BBC executive is the board that likes to say yes.

"When it comes to paying journalists and programme makers that deliver the content that makes the BBC the envy of the world, the BBC has tried to peddle the line that a below-inflation deal is the only way of keeping their political and corporate enemies at bay in the forthcoming licence fee settlement.

"The NUJ believes there needs to be radical reform at the BBC, with executive pay capped at £150,000. That would free up the money to ensure fair pay for all staff.

A BBC spokesman said: "We will do all we can to bring our audience uninterrupted coverage of the Commonwealth Games. In the meantime we will continue to speak to the unions in an attempt to resolve this dispute."

FACTFILE

e The BBC employs around 650 staff in Northern Ireland who produce more than 8,500 hours of local radio and television content each year and a range of online content, according to the corporation's website.

e Staff are fighting for what they have described as a "decent pay rise". The strike action will take place from 11.59am to 11.59pm on Wednesday, July 23.

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