BBC local staff are set to strike over changes to radio schedules after members of the journalists’ union “overwhelmingly” backed industrial action in a formal ballot.
Last year, the corporation announced plans to introduce greater programme-sharing on local radio in England at times of the day when it says listening is typically lower.
This would mean on weekdays after 2pm the BBC would produce 20 afternoon programmes across England and 10 programmes between 6pm to 10pm with a number of local stations sharing programming. The changes would result in the loss of about 48 staff posts.
The changes have been criticised by MPs and unions.
Announcing the results of a ballot that has been open for three weeks, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said its members had “overwhelmingly” backed industrial action over the proposals with 83% voting in favour of strikes, and 92% voting in support of action short of a strike, both on a 69% turnout.
The NUJ said the dispute was not over pay but over how resources were best used to serve audiences.
It is understood union representatives were due to meet on Tuesday to discuss what happens next.
Last month, in a memo to its members, the union said: “Industrial action isn’t something we resort to easily but the BBC have made it clear that the offer on the table regarding programme-sharing is their final one and they now intend to move forward with their plans, starting with advertising some new roles including those of presenter/producer.”
The memo suggested members could strike in the week starting 13 March.
The action would come at a time of significant unrest among workers across the country, with industrial action taking place in healthcare, teaching and transport sectors.
The BBC has been approached for comment.