BBC Workers Vote For Strike Over Job Cuts

LONDON (AP) — British Broadcasting Corporation journalists and technical workers have voted to strike to protest thousands of job cuts, union officials said Wednesday.

The BBC now faces the threat of a walkout at TV and radio stations across the country later this month and the possible disruption of some programs.

Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of the broadcasting union Bectu, said 80 percent of members had voted in favor of industrial action to protest job cuts announced earlier this year by BBC Director General Mark Thompson.

"This sends a clear message to Mark Thompson that he is out of touch with his staff," Morrissey said. "We have been given a clear mandate in favor of a strike."

In another ballot, nearly 84 percent of members of the National Union of Journalists voted for strike action; some 64 percent of the corporation's 3,500 journalists cast ballots, the union said.

NUJ General secretary Jeremy Dear said the BBC's package of cuts "is badly thought-out, does not add up, will do irreparable damage to quality and standards and has been soundly rejected by staff."

"Mark Thompson and senior management are not prepared to protect the future of the BBC, but the staff are."

Union leaders will meet Thursday and news reports said they are expected to schedule a one-day strike for later this month.

The BBC announced in March that it is shedding 2,050 jobs, in addition to 1,730 previously announced, out of a work force of about 28,000.

Last month, journalists at the BBC's domestic news channel, News 24, voted to take full meal and computer screen breaks and refuse to cover for staff shortages as their way of protesting the cuts.

However, in that vote the journalists, all members of the National Union of Journalists, stopped short of endorsing strike action.