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BBC staff expected to back strike action

BBC Scotland staff look set to vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, but disruption to Christmas broadcasting could be averted.

BBC insiders suggest that tomorrow staff at the BBC will deliver a vote in favour of industrial action in protest at proposed cuts to staffing, including the loss of at least 10 jobs this year.

However, yesterday the National Union of Journalists said its national ballot over industrial action had "concentrated minds" at the corporation in London.

In particular, negotiations have focused on digital radio station the Asian Network, which will lose around half of its staff as part of the BBC's cost-saving measures.

A group of around five journalists facing compulsory redundancy that was due to affect them on December 31, but will be re-deployed or see another "satisfactory outcome" reached.

If industrial action is agreed, the union will use the strength of feeling as a negotiating tool next year over job cuts on the BBC World Service and BBC Scotland, in which Glasgow will become the most contentious battleground in the UK if the Asian Network jobs are saved.

Some of BBC Scotland's most senior journalists are to leave the corporation by April.

The budget cuts follow an agreement two years ago – between the BBC and the Westminster Government – to freeze the TV licence fee for two years.

Over five years BBC Scotland is estimated to see between 100 and 120 posts being axed, as an annual budget cut of 16% makes its force felt.

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