The European Federation of Journalists today called on journalists across Europe to support journalists at the BBC who have launched a strike campaign to defend pension rights. At the weekend journalists staged a successful 48-hour stoppage across the network, forcing a number of flagship programmes off the air. Now fresh actions are planned as the network seeks to impose a "pay-more, get-less" retirement plan on thousands of its staff.
"The BBC journalists are showing the way to tackle head-on the media agenda of cuts and down-grading of staff rights," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "It's a strike campaign that will resonate in all European media houses where journalists and media staff are being targeted to shoulder the burden of the financial crisis."
The EFJ says that European journalists are facing savage budget cuts, declining social rights and a lack of social dialogue not just in the broadcasting sector, but across the whole of the media landscape.
BBC journalists, who registered a 70 per cent vote against the network's new pension plan, plan a second two-day strike on November 15-16.
The strike campaign was launched after weeks of talks between the unions and management failed to find an agreeable solution to the pension fund crisis. In addition the government has told the BBC to shoulder the costs of its World Service network which has hitherto been paid for from the budget of the Foreign Ministry. It has also had its licence fee frozen for six years.
The EFJ and its affiliate in the UK, the National Union of Journalists, fear that the regime of cuts and devaluing the pension entitlement of staff will both undermine the network's commitment to high standards and also unfairly penalise thousands of staff who had been paying into this fund many years.
"We've been overwhelmed over the past 2 days by the support we've had - not just from staff right the way across the BBC, but from the public and other workers. BBC colleagues in our sister union, BECTU have inundated us with messages of support, with many refusing to cross picket lines to go into work. It's clear that staff right across the BBC are keen for us to win - as it would mean a better pensions deal for all" said a statement of the NUJ.
The conviction of the journalists at the BBC over the justice of their case has led to widespread support at home and abroad and the union plans to continue its campaign, including, if necessary, to call strikes over the Christmas and New Year period.
"The BBC strikes are actions in which we all have a stake," said Arne König, EFJ President. "Which is why we shall do everything we can to give them support from every corner of Europe."
More information http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1796
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in 30 countries.
For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200