Cleaners and porters say yes to strikes

Broadcasting House in London Bectu believes the cuts will spread from London across the UK

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Cleaners, porters, mailroom workers and receptionists working in BBC buildings around the country could soon be on strike, following a Bectu ballot.

Employees of Interserve - which signed a five-year deal with the corporation in April to provide facilities management services - voted for strike action over efficiency plans that could lead to job losses.

They are also in dispute with their company bosses over pay.

More than 44% of those who are Bectu members voted in the ballot, of whom more than 80% were in favour of strikes.

Interserve engineers at the BBC, who are represented by the Unite union, staged a two-day walkout earlier this week over a cutback in operations, which they say will cut their team by more than half.

Other proposed changes - which only relate to the BBC's London premises - include a reduction in cleaning hours, fewer mail collections and deliveries, and the end of courier parcels being brought to staff at their desks.

Unite and Bectu expect to tell Interserve this week when the next strikes will take place, although talks between union officials and the company will continue after the bank holiday.

Helen Ryan, Bectu supervisory official, previously told Ariel that she believed the BBC contract with Interserve - which employs around 1,100 people on BBC premises across the UK - 'came in cheap'.

'Although these cuts only affect London at the moment, we believe that the company has agreed to a contract that they are now struggling to deliver profitably and so they are slashing jobs, and we believe they will look to sites outside London next for more cuts.'

In response to the ballot outcome, an Interserve spokesperson stated: 'While it is clearly disappointing that further strike action may be taken we will continue to work closely with unions and staff representatives to try and reach a suitable agreement for all parties.'

The BBC said: 'This is a dispute between Interserve and the unions. Interserve has mitigating arrangements in place to ensure that delivery of their services to the BBC are not affected.'

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