BBC journalists vote to strike over pensions

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BBC journalists will hold two 48-hour strikes next month after rejecting the corporation's latest offer in a dispute over pensions, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said Thursday.

The NUJ's 4,000 members will walk out on November 5-6, and again on November 15-16 after 70 percent voted against the BBC's latest offer.

Additional dates will be announced in the coming days with the possibility that the Christmas period could be targeted.

"This massive vote against the BBC's latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental 'pay more, work longer, get less' nature of the offer," said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.

"NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions robbery. That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions."

However, the bigger broadcasting union, Bectu, which represents staff from technicians to managers, said its members had accepted the new offer.

The NUJ and Bectu were both due to strike earlier this month during the annual party conference of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, but called off the action after the BBC made a new offer.

A majority of Bectu's approximately 8,000 members have now voted to accept the new proposal.

Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey said Thursday that while the offer represented "a decent settlement", his members would be forced to tighten their belts over the next few years.

"There is no hiding the fact that even with the improvements we have negotiated, members will in future have less favourable terms than exist currently."

As part of the government's massive programme of spending cuts, the BBC has accepted to take over funding of the World Service from the foreign ministry in return for a six-year freeze on the licence fee.

Every householder in Britain with a television or radio must pay the fee, which is the BBC's principal source of funding.

© 2010 AFP

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