BBC strike suspended

The BBC will still report on the Tory conference in Birmingham
The BBC will still report on the Tory conference in Birmingham

By Ian Dunt

A BBC strike set to hit the Tory party conference next week has been suspended.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the corporation made an improved offer to staff over the ongoing pensions dispute.

Staff had come under intense pressure to rearrange the strike, with Ed Miliband and prominent political staff saying it threatened the xcoporations reputation for impartiality.

The new Labour leader said: "Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute between [media trade union] Bectu and the BBC they should not be blacking out the prime minister's speech.

"My speech was seen and heard on the BBC and in the interest in impartiality and fairness, so the prime minister's should be."

The move came just one day after it emerged that several prominent BBC political journalists wrote to union representatives saying the timing of the strike could raise issues of impartiality.

[The strike] "risks looking unduly partisan - particularly when none of the other party conferences have been targeted," the letter read.

"Impartiality is the watchword for the BBC's political coverage and we would not wish to give a misleading impression that this is no longer something we value highly."

The extraordinary intervention by many of the BBC's most well-known journalists, including Nick Robinson, Jeremy Paxman and Laura Kuenssberg, provoked an angry response from union reps.

"Your letter... conveys a tiny minority concern," said Ian Pollack, an NUJ official for BBC London.

"I do not take kindly to non-members trying to unpick democratically taken decisions of the NUJ with the aid of loathsome enemies in Fleet Street."

The two planned 48 hour strikes were set to fall on October 5th and 6th, during the Tory party conference, and October 19th and 20th, during the comprehensive spending review. The second set of dates are still set to go ahead.


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