BBC warns staff over strike action

Walkout planned for two days in early April

LONDON -- The BBC has warned staffers that they will not be paid if they refuse to cross picket lines during two days of planned strike action in April, and that they will have to show medical certificates if they are ill over the period of the strike.

BBC news across TV, radio and online will likely be disrupted during strike action planned for April 3 and April 9 following compulsory layoffs in its regional news services.

"Those that do not attend work will not be paid. Leave that has already been booked will be honored -- however, any new requests will not be accepted," BBC managers told staff in an e-mail. "Similarly, if you are unfortunate enough to be sick on either of these days, we will require a medical certificate to avoid any confusion as to whether you were participating in strike action."

The e-mail also warned that it "cannot guarantee that there won't be compulsory redundancies now or in the future," but said that in this case a very small number of jobs were at risk.

"Our industry is changing, not least because of the state of the economy and advances in technology. Many of our competitors are struggling and many license fee payers are in danger of losing their jobs and livelihoods," the e-mail reads. "Naturally, we do not want anyone to lose their jobs but the BBC too, faces challenging efficiency savings to ensure greater value for money for our audiences."

Last week, BBC director general Mark Thompson said the pubcaster would have to make cut an extra £400 million ($580 million) over the next three years -- in addition to the £524 million ($760 million) already cut in recent years -- and warned that the cost-savings may include further job cuts.

The pubcaster has cut 7,200 jobs in recent years as it struggles to streamline the organization. Another 1,200 jobs are also expected to go.
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