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BBC strike threat after Gary Robertson is fired

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The BBC’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games and the referendum could be plunged into chaos after a radio anchorman was axed.

Stunned colleagues are threatening to down tools after Good Morning Scotland host Gary Robertson was let go.

The high-profile presenter, who has worked for the Beeb for around 15 years, was told earlier this month his contract would not be renewed in August. It is understood bosses told the award-winning broadcaster he was to be released as part of cost-cutting measures. Now his colleagues are threatening industrial action over the move.

Under-fire BBC bosses are to meet union chiefs tomorrow in last-ditch talks to avert a walkout.

Morale at the BBC’s flagship offices in Glasgow is said to be at rock-bottom. Staff have questioned why big-hitters from London, such as Jim Naughtie, have been parachuted in to present programmes on Radio Scotland if budgets are tight.

One insider said: “You couldn’t make it up. They must have spent a small fortune getting these big names up and then they tell Gary they need to let him go because of cost.

“Gary is no junior member of staff. He’s presented our top current affair programme ably for years. He’s widely respected by his journalistic colleagues at the BBC in Scotland. To let him go in such an important year for Scotland is an incredibly bad move.”

Sources say relations between BBC management and staff were already strained in Glasgow before Robertson was let go.

An internal BBC survey has made worrying reading for top brass. Fed-up staff have told bosses they feel they are “grossly under-resourced” with claims of a culture of bullying. Staff are also believed to have decided to boycott internal appraisals, brought in by chief Ken McQuarrie, due later this year.

Another source said: “We are very much aware of how important this year is to the BBC. Relations between staff and management are very fragile. Gary’s departure could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s being seen as a compulsory redundancy.”

An NUJ spokesman said: “There is the real possibility of industrial action during the weeks through to and including September. We are already close to balloting on industrial action over problems with treatment of the staff.

“There is a huge amount of shock over Gary being dumped because he has worked tirelessly, often on long shifts, for 15 years and is a very talented broadcaster.”

Last night a BBC spokesman said: “The meeting with the union is a general one and we’ve had no indication that possible industrial action would discussed.”

Yesterday it was revealed Scotland 2014 fronted by Sarah Smith had bombed since it replaced Newsnight Scotland, with viewing figures as low as 22,000 last week.