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BBC staff belonging to three unions staged a 24-hour strike to protest a plan that would cut 3800 jobs. Photo courtesy BECTU.

Unionized BBC workers disrupted the production of several radio and television shows, including News 24 and BBC World, when a large number walked off their jobs to protest plans to eliminate 3800 jobs.

Estimates range from 38 percent to 55 percent of the BBC workers took part in the 24-hour job action. The strike lasted from midnight May 22 until midnight May 23. The next step for the unions is a two-day strike scheduled from May 31 to June 1 if negotiations with the British state broadcaster aren’t seen as meaningful.

The plan to cut jobs is part of a larger effort at the BBC to prepare for new technology, multicasting and the potential of a radical departure from the funding model used to finance the network through viewer licensing fees paid at the time a TV set is purchased. At the center of the tension between labor and management is a plan from BBC Director General Mark Thompson to reshape public broadcasting. (For more information on Thompson’s plan see “New round of BBC cuts to generate $420 million in annual savings”).

The unions participating in the strike included Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Amicus. According to Bectu, 15,000 workers took part in the strike.

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