Friday, May 13, 2005

Guild backs BBC strikes

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain has announced its support for a series of one-day strikes by employees at the BBC aimed at preventing large-scale cuts in BBC staffing and operations.

The staff involved are members of BECTU and Amicus (producers, technicians, admin staff, etc) and the NUJ (journalists). The staff unions held ballots which produced large majorities in favour of strikes.

The walk-outs will take place for 24 hours on 23 May and 48 hours on 31 May and 1 June, with a fourth stoppage to be announced to create the "greatest amount of disruption" possible.

In a statement The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain said that it supported the views of the BBC staff unions.
The Guild deplores the 15 per cent across-the-board cuts because they are bound to have a bad effect on the production of drama, sitcom, sketch shows and other genres that involve Guild members.

Virtually all Guild self-employed freelancers rather than employees. Therefore the Guild was not involved in the strike ballots and is not officially part of the unions' "Fight for our BBC" campaign. Under trade union legislation it would be wrong for the Guild to instruct or encourage members to withdraw their labour.

However, Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: “I hope Guild members will show maximum possible support for the staff unions when they take strike action. The dates are known in advance, so if Guild members have meetings or appointments planned for those days, I hope they will rearrange them.

"If they have deadlines on those days, I hope they will refrain from submitting material while staff are on strike – whether this means submitting it a day early or a day late. Many producers and managers will be on strike themselves, so Guild members should consider discussing with them in advance how they can react to the strike situation.

"The minute any Guild member thinks there is a serious problem, they should ring me at the Guild office and I will advise them how to proceed. Also, there are likely to be picket lines at most BBC premises. I would encourage Guild members to join the picket lines if they can, and show their solidarity with the BBC staff. After all, we all want to preserve the best possible public service broadcasting service for our country.”

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