Yes vote in ballot could trigger 24-hour IT strike at BBC

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Yes vote in ballot could trigger 24-hour IT strike at BBC

Karl Flinders

A 24-hour strike by IT workers at the BBC is increasingly likely after a union meeting concluded that a full-day stoppage followed by a series of disruptions would be the most effective action.

Union Bectu balloted Siemens workers at the BBC last month over possible strike action. The move followed redundancies, a pay freeze and the possible outsourcing of servers to Romania.

The result of the ballot will not be known until 19 March at the earliest, which could mean strike action could be some time after 29 March.

In 2005, Siemens took over the IT at the BBC in an outsourcing deal that saw the BBC sell off parts of its IT operations. About 1,400 BBC workers transferred to Siemens under the deal.

Suresh Chawla, national officer at Bectu, said that during the meeting it was decided that should there be a vote for industrial action in the ballot, a 24-hour stoppage followed by other disruptions would have the best impact.

He said the build-up to the general election and sporting events could be targeted. "We are looking at the potential of a 24-hour stoppage over the weekend because it will impact sporting events and coincide with many members being off work."

The BBC said last week that it has been assured by Siemens that its business would not be disrupted by any strike action. "As the BBC's technology partner, Siemens is responsible for keeping our services on air and online. They have kept us informed as talks have progressed and assured us that, in the event of strike action, contingency plans are in place to ensure there will be no adverse effect on audiences."

Siemens said: "Like many other organisations, Siemens is not awarding company-wide increases in pay this year, and this reflects the current market conditions. We are disappointed that Bectu has chosen to conduct a ballot for industrial action as we believe that any industrial action will not be in the interests of our employees or customers. We therefore remain hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached."


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