From London to Kabul, picket lines were set up outside offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation as workers protested against plans to cut almost 4,000 jobs.

“This is the worst disruption at the BBC for over a decade,” said Paul Mason, who works for BBC2’s Newsnight and represents one of the striking unions, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr Mason said the proposed job cuts were unfair.

“Jobs will go but it would be nice to see some of the bloated management go as well,” he said.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said the strikes were primarily about maintaining quality broadcasting.

“It’s not a strike about greed but about protecting our fundamental principles behind the BBC, the quality and the standards,” Mr Dear said.

Broadcasting union Bectu said up to 15,000 of the BBC’s 27,000-strong workforce took part in the stop work action.

But the broadcaster’s director general, Mark Thompson, played down the significance of the strike.

“All of our networks are on the air, the disruption has been less than we thought and over 60 percent of staff have turned up for work as normal,” he said

However, a number of live radio and television programmes were dropped, including the flagship Today news programme on Radio 4, which was replaced with recorded programmes.

BBC New 24 and BBC World briefly switched to recorded news bulletins.

Unions have demanded negotiations begin over the planned loss of 3,780 jobs which was announced in March.

“I hope he (Mark Thompson) will now begin to take notice and begin proper negotiations with the staff unions,” Mr Dear told the BBC’s online news service.

According to the BBC, Mr Thompson expressed support for discussions with unions and staff.

“But I would be surprised to be honest if we could significantly shift that number,” Mr Thompson reportedly said.

Mr Thompson has argued the cuts are needed to prepare the organisation for more hi-tech broadcasting and to fund investment in programming.

Workers have already set aside May 31 and June 1 as the dates for a 48-hour stoppage, with a fourth strike day yet to be named, should talks fail to produce a resolution.