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Local journalists set for fresh strikes as BBC deal rejected

nujlogoFresh strike action is set to be undertaken by local journalists after they rejected plans to remove the threat of redundancy from 300 BBC colleagues.

The National Union of Journalists has announced members working in television, online and radio at BBC Local in England have narrowly voted to reject a fresh offer by the broadcaster amid planned changes to its radio services.

The union had paused plans to hold a 24-hour walkout on Friday after last week revealing it would ballot members over a revised deal that would remove the risk of redundancy from 300 journalists.

Stress risk assessments and three extra pairs of weekend breakfast shows had also been proposed by the BBC, according to the union. But 56pc of those ballot have now voted to reject the BBC’s offer, with 44pc deciding to accept.

A meeting of NUJ BBC Local reps in England will take place later this week to determine next steps in the dispute, including consideration of new strike dates.

A work to rule paused while the NUJ consulted members on new proposals will also resume at midnight tonight.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: “Members have made it clear that without a fair proposal that keeps BBC Local Radio local and stops the output being drastically cut, strike action will continue.

“We urge management to listen to what their own staff are saying, along with politicians from all parties and 5.7 million listeners.

“It is vital the BBC return to negotiations with a proposal that keeps its millions of listeners at its core, recognising the huge role journalists play in delivering these much-loved programmes.”

The redundancy threat arose from plans first revealed in October, which will mean 300 journalists working in local radio having to re-apply for their own jobs.

At the time, the BBC announced the proposed loss of 139 radio roles and a concurrent investment in local digital journalism to create 131 new jobs.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result of the NUJ ballot. We will continue to engage with the Union as we have done over the last few months in an effort to minimise the impact on our staff and our audiences.

“We have a plan to modernise local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding. Our goal is a local service across tv, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities.”