BBC Newsnight seems to provide the most militant of the BBC strikers. Michael Crick, the programme's political editor, said “I haven’t listened to the Today programme. I regard listening to or watching the BBC as strike breaking.” Wow. I wonder what he thinks of left-leaning journalists like Steve Richards who appeared as guests on yesterday's Today programme.
Meanwhile Crick's colleague, Paul Mason, Newsnight's economics editor (captured above in The Sunday Telegraph, on the picket line with National Union of Journalists placard and armband) urged the BBC to cut programmes and sell assets in order to protect staff pensions. Some changes to pension entitlements were proposed by BBC management to correct a deficit in the Corporation's pension fund, caused by retirees living longer and the performance of financial markets. Four out of five unions and the vast majority of non-unionised staff have accepted the changes. The NUJ, which represents just 17% of BBC staff, rejected the proposals. These are the same people who provide reporting of the Coalition's cuts programme.
The Mail on Sunday splashes on the decision of Sarah Montague and Evan Davies to cross picket lines and ensure yesterday's Today programme was broadcast:
"Two of the BBC’s most high-profile presenters, Evan Davis and Sarah Montague, enraged colleagues yesterday by defying the strike that has brought chaos to its news schedules. They ignored a 48-hour journalists’ walkout to present Radio 4’s flagship Today programme. It is understood that they managed to avoid crossing a picket line by arriving at 3.30am – before striking colleagues had arrived. Their decision was a boon to BBC management trying to ensure major news programmes remained on air, but has been described as a kick in the teeth to colleagues striking over changes to their pension scheme."
Other strike-breakers included Jonathan Dimbleby who ensured Radio 4's Any Questions? was broadcast. James Landale also served BBC TV viewers, reporting on Iain Duncan Smith's welfare shake-up. Andrew Neil presented Friday's edition of BBC2's Daily Politics.
The best comment on the dispute comes from a BBC worker, noting that the head of news, Helen Boaden, read news bulletins as part of managements efforts to maintain services; “It’s like the Queen doing the vacuuming.”