D-Day Looms In BBC Pension Showdown

Hundreds of BBC staff have joined the broadcast union, BECTU in recent weeks to help the fight against cuts to staff pensions.

The union is advising new recruits who want to vote in the on-going industrial action ballot to ensure that BECTU receives application forms no later than 24 August.

A BECTU statement said that ballot papers are issued by the independent scrutineer - Electoral Reform Ballot Services Ltd - and must be returned to their offices by the 1 September deadline.

The ballot hinges on the news that the BBC wants to limit pension increases from April 2011 to a maximum 1% a year irrespective of increases in basic pay derived either from the annual pay award or promotion.

The proposals, announced on 29 June, have met with widespread criticism from staff, the majority of whom are affected by the plans.

Thousands attended meetings last month called by BECTU, the NUJ and Unite across the country.

BECTU officials then wrote an open letter to non-union members on 2 August to stress the importance of the pensions campaign.

"The BBC's proposals are a fundamental and long-lasting attack on staff terms and conditions and are intent on driving staff out of the final salary schemes," commented BECTU General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey, who said that the proposals tabled by senior management offer no protection for accrued benefits and will see future pension entitlement cut adrift from basic salary.

He said the BBC also wants to close the only scheme that remains open to new staff - the career average scheme - from December 2010.

Meanwhile, the publicity surrounding the 'feather-bedding' of senior executives pensions forced Director-General, Mark Thompson, to promise an end to the so-called 'Furbs' scheme which has topped up the pension pots of some 50 senior executives by more than £1million a year.

BECTU insists that as the unions wait to see how firm Mark Thompson's promise of one system for staff and managers' pensions will be, BBC staff are presented with a stark choice.

They can accept that future increases in pensionable salary will be capped at 1% or forego all future pay increases above that amount.

Commenting further Gerry Morrissey said: "BBC staff need to come together in BECTU, and our sister unions, to help to bring the BBC to its senses.

"The current proposals are draconian and impact on BBC staff, young and old.

"If these proposals are not challenged they will damage staff and their families and they will damage the BBC itself.

"There are other ways of cutting the deficit than this direct and terminal hit on staff benefits," he said.

The joint unions are expecting strong 'Yes' votes in the ballots that close on 1 September.

Representatives from across the country will then meet in London on 2 September to discuss the ballot results and to decide on next steps.


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