Author Archives: Jack Dearlove

BBC ‘not expecting any disruption’ during World Service weekend strike

Picture: copyright BBC

Following a ballot of members, media and entertainment union Bectu has announced that some staff working in the BBC World Service’s network operations will strike for 30 hours this weekend.

Journalists are not taking industrial action.

Bectu warned that “output is set be hit” by the strike but the BBC has this afternoon issued a statement to say it is “not expecting any disruption to World Service programming”.

The union’s dispute with the BBC centres on the corporation’s refusal to allow around 15 staff to join a final salary pension scheme following their transfer of employment from a private company, Babcock Communications Ltd, to the BBC late last year.

Bectu feels demands should be met because it claims some of the staff involved were allowed to keep a final salary scheme when they transferred to Babcock Communications following the privatisation of World Service Transmission Operations in 1997.

Bectu supervisory official Helen Ryan said in a statement:

This is a classic case of staff pension provision being disrupted by contracting out. When these staff were transferred out of the BBC in 1997, the BBC backed their demands for continuing membership of a final salary scheme.

Now, 15 years on, the BBC wants to wash its hands of its responsibilities to deal with the disruption to pension provision which these staff face.

The BBC has said in a statement:

We are disappointed that Bectu members have opted to take strike action … we have only allowed access to whatever pension scheme was open to new entrants at the time.

It would set an unsustainable precedent to allow people transferring into the BBC to enter pension schemes that are now closed to new members.

The industrial action will take place between 3pm on Sunday (15 April) and 9pm the following day. The staff involved route programmes to transmitters around the world.

BBC Breakfast moves to Salford: Early reaction

Hello this is Breakfast with Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid.

BBC Breakfast started this morning’s programme like any other, but it was of course a little different as it was the first to come from the BBC’s new base in Salford.

The launch was fairly understated. Early in the show it was only mentioned as part of the headlines sequence, just before the programme’s main news story but viewers were treated to a new, apparently smaller, studio and a refreshed backdrop featuring the Salford skyline.

Reaction to the programme’s new surroundings were mixed. Some viewers expressed concerns about how close the camera appeared to be to the presenters:



Although BBC colleagues that had already made the move north were happy to see Breakfast in Salford:

The show’s move is a significant moment for the BBC North project and follows similar moves by BBC Radio 5 Live, CBBC and a Question of Sport. However it has not been without problems.

Less than half of the team made the transition to Salford, including two of the show’s stars Sian Williams and Chris Hollins, both of whom left a few weeks ago.

The show’s long-standing weather presenter Carol Kirkwood has remained, although she’ll present from a studio in London or on location as she has done since 1998.

Technically the programme went off without a hitch, although fans of the show’s Irish dancing business reporter Steph McGovern will have been disappointed as she had to miss the relaunch because of laryngitis. While she wasn’t on air though she spent her time tweeting pictures from behind the scenes:

Her role was taken over by reporter Ben Thompson who travelled from London last night, raising questions of whether the programme’s producers have finished building the show’s full stand-in line up.

It’s also yet to be proven how the show’s move up north will affect the calibre of guests it can pull in for the lighter section of the programme after 8.30am, although with an estimated seven million viewers producers are confident they can still attract the biggest stars.

Speaking to the BBC before the show’s launch deputy editor Adam Bullimore said: “We’ve had some researchers booking guests in advance of the move and the indications are that we will get talent on the sofa.”