BBC finance staff shun strike

Just a handful of finance staff refused to cross picket lines during this week’s one-day strike at the BBC, despite plans by the broadcaster to axe or outsource up to two-thirds of workers in the finance department.

In April, BBC group FD Zarin Patel told Accountancy Age that one of her first jobs at the broadcaster was to trim the finance department.

The BBC revealed that 163 out of 175 finance staff turned up for work on Monday, ignoring the strike action by their colleagues. Of the 675 other staff under Patel’s direct management, working in programme rights and business affairs, 70% went to work. Unions claimed that 55% of all BBC staff stayed away.

The strike came in protest at the BBC’s drive to find savings of £355m. In April, Patel said: ‘We have about 850 staff in finance. We will lessen that by a third through outsourcing, a third of the posts will be reduced, meaning a third will be left.’

Patel’s department forms a large part of the professional services division, which faces 1,730 job cuts and a £139m budget cut. ‘In finance, because there is a high level of churn, and it’s a buoyant market at the moment, I think that most will be voluntary,’ she said.

Bectu, the union for workers in the media industry, was unavailable for comment.

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