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BBC Faces Easter Strike as Union Says Broadcaster Is Becoming a 'Sweatshop'

BBC strike - H 2013
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Following a similar recent strike, union members will protest amid continuing job cuts, workload complaints and claims of bullying and harassment.

LONDON - The BBC is facing Easter programming disruptions after journalists voted to stage a 12-hour strike next week over job cuts, workloads and claims of bullying, according to the Guardian.

The move follows a 24-hour strike on Feb. 18 over compulsory redundancies, which forced the BBC to air reruns and alternative programming instead of flagship TV morning show Breakfast and other news programs.

Members of the BBC's two biggest unions have backed the latest strike, which would come just ahead of the April 2 start date of new BBC director general Tony Hall.

STORY: BBC Changes Monday Morning Programming Schedule Amid Journalists' Strike

The dispute is over the BBC's continuing cost-cutting program, which is part of its so-called "Delivering Quality First" strategy.

One of the unions supporting the strike, Bectu, said that the BBC leadership is looking to create “a modern-day BBC sweatshop.”

STORY: British Prime Minister Dismissive of BBC Strike, Financial Concerns

Meanwhile, Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the other union, the National Union of Journalists, said the job cuts were harming quality journalism at the U.K. public broadcaster.

She also suggested that BBC executives were sitting on a time bomb of harassment complaints that would be exposed by an ongoing review of the corporation's harassment and bullying policies, the Guardian added.

A BBC spokeswoman said, "We have had constructive meetings with the unions in recent weeks and agree that it is important to monitor how our staff are affected by the savings we are making."

She added: "However, our position on compulsory redundancies remains the same. We must progress with those given the significant savings we have to make, and strike action simply will not change this.”

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai