British Broadcasting Corp. staffers will stage four days of strike action beginning May 23 in protest of more than 4,000 planned job cuts, unions said May 12.

LONDON (The Hollywood Reporter) -- British Broadcasting Corp. staffers will stage four days of strike action beginning May 23 in protest of more than 4,000 planned job cuts, unions said May 12.

The strike action has been billed as "the first step" in a sustained campaign of action to protest BBC director general Mark Thompson's plans to eliminate almost one in five BBC posts, a move that is expected to have major consequences for the pubcaster's programming, with live news and sports coverage potentially facing a blackout.

In addition to May 23, employees will halt work for 48 hours on May 31 and June 1, and will announce another strike date in June later this month. The unions will then meet to decide whether further action should be taken.

Representatives of the National Union of Journalists and the Broadcast, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theater Union said action followed a decisive vote from the BBC staff, in which more than 80% of those polled favored industrial action.

The cutback plans, announced last year by Thompson, would also see an additional 1,000 jobs outsourced in the sale of technical division BBC Resources.

Unions have called on BBC bosses for a 90-day moratorium on the job cut program but said the BBC has not responded.

A statement from the BBC said: "We regret that the unions have decided to take industrial action. By threatening the BBC's output, the unions put at risk the BBC's relationship with the public, which is in no one's interest."

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