02/07/2010

Strike Action Looms As BBC Pay Deal Falters

Last-ditch efforts are being made to avoid a potentially damaging strike taking place at the BBC over failed pay negotiations.

The broadcast union BECTU has already warned that it believes a strike ballot is likely in response to the BBC's latest offer on pay tabled at talks held at the end of June. BECTU, the NUJ and Unite are in crisis talks with BBC staff in a series of meetings that are taking place right across the country.

The fresh attempts to avoid industrial action started on 5 July and come after the union rejected the broadcaster's 'final offer'.

Despite strong representations from BECTU and fellow organisers in the NUJ and Unite, the BBC tabled its final offer on pay for 2010/11, which included little movement from its earlier position.

The offer to staff now stands at a flat rate increase of £475 for staff paid up to £37,726 a year.

Staff paid above the BBC-defined cap will then face a pay freeze. In a slight change from the earlier offer, the BBC is proposing to increase rates of pay at the floor and ceiling of BBC grades and staff allowances by 1%.

That means that a third of BECTU's BBC membership would see no increase in earnings given the core offer on pay.

The unions recognised by the BBC (BECTU, the NUJ and Unite) maintain that the BBC can afford to pay more to its staff across the board given the 2% in its licence fee income.
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Commenting on the current situation, Gerry Morrissey, BECTU General Secretary, said: "The offer of a flat increase of £475 for all those earning less than £37,726 and a pay freeze for those earning above that amount is insulting.

"Last year the staff increase was below the rate of inflation. This year the BBC is offering well below inflation and only half of what they received from government in the licence fee settlement.

"Thousands of BBC staff have been made redundant in recent years and management's response to the additional workload now being carried by our members is the offer of a pay freeze or, at best, a token offer which on its own is insulting but which will anger staff on the back of this week's proposed draconian changes to pension provision," he said, alleging this is "a politically expedient move".

"BBC executives have now decided that they are all part of the public sector after years of feathering their own nests with inflation-busting increases justified by reference to market rates," the union boss continued.

"Actually, the truth is that it is one rule for senior management and another for the programme makers, technicians, journalists and admin staff who make the BBC the great institution it is."

Commenting on the UK-wide sampling of opinion, Gerry Morrissey said: "We are keen to hear from our members and if the feedback we have received to date is reflected at BBC sites up and down the country, and the BBC fails to respond, then a strike ballot looks inevitable."

(BMcC/GK)

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