High-profile BBC presenters, including Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen, deserted the studios to go on strike at the Mailbox on Monday – leaving TV news programme Midlands Today with an emergency shoestring staff.
Dozens of broadcast journalists based at the Mailbox walked out for 24 hours before beginning an indefinite work to rule.
The walkout, called by the National Union of Journalists, was held in protest over compulsory redundancies, with 387 posts due to be scrapped across the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring, including around 100 enforced job cuts.
NUJ members joined a rally outside the Mailbox to back the national day of protest, leaving just a handful of editorial staff working at the Birmingham city centre studio.
NUJ Birmingham branch official Michele Paduano said: “The NUJ membership at the Mailbox is fairly close to 100 per cent so the BBC will not be able to provide the same level of coverage that they normally do.
“With the work to rule, the aim is not to affect the public – it is more to cause the BBC headaches.
“This dispute is about a relatively small number of members who are being forced into compulsory redundancy.
“These people do not need to be made redundant.
“The union is standing strong. We had a really good turnout for the rally.”
A further major battle over jobs is on the cards by 2013, when cuts of up to 20 per cent are set to be sought by BBC management nationally in line with the public sector cuts.
A BBC statement said: “We are disappointed that the NUJ has gone ahead with today’s strike and apologise to our audience for any disruption to services.
“Industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory redundancies following significant cuts to the central Government grants that support the World Service and BBC Monitoring.
“We will continue with our efforts to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies.”