NUJ, Bectu and Unite urge members to vote “Yes” for action over imposed pay deal

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The NUJ, Bectu and Unite are today recommending their members vote for strike action over pay, a new appraisal system and compulsory redundancies caused by the management’s failure to fulfil an agreement on redeployment.

The strike could see coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations taken off air. The story was first broken by UnionNews here.

In a letter to BBC staff, Helen Boaden, director of BBC news group, said: “For most people this is genuinely an age of austerity; the UK economy has just slipped back into recession; many people fear for their jobs – including of course, people in BBC News; there is a kind of collective anxiety about the place which is more apparent the further from London you travel. Against that background, I don’t think our licence fee payers are in any mood to tolerate us even suggesting that for our own interests, we should damage BBC output.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is not just about a derisory pay deal of 1 per cent imposed on our members without proper consultation.  It is about the BBC going back on a deal made last autumn on a redeployment scheme which has left members needlessly facing compulsory redundancy, when there are jobs elsewhere in the corporation.  It is also about an unfair appraisal scheme under which all members of staff would be marked.  Again this is being imposed without consultation.

“We are taking this action, not out of self-interest, but because we love the BBC.  We are taking this action because we believe licence fee payers should have a service which is properly funded and where the staff receive fair pay.  Most people who work for the BBC are not paid well.  The median salary is £30,000 and a starting salary in the regions is typically £17,000.  We would not be in this position if the BBC management had not shut down consultation on these pay and conditions issues.

“We are also sticking up for the BBC in our campaign to call for an urgent reinvestigation into the handling of the licence fee deal and the huge influence the Murdochs and senior News International figures  had on this government behind the scenes. Emasculating the BBC and pushing through the BskyB deal at any cost was a shared agenda by those at the heart of News International and at the heart of this government. Jeremy Hunt should resign and BBC management should be joining forces with the NUJ and calling for an urgent renegotiation of the licence fee deal conducted properly and transparently.”

The unions’ pay claim, submitted in January, sought a pay increase of two per cent above RPI, subject to a minimum increase of £1,000. The unions highlighted that staff salaries had fallen 8 per cent behind inflation since 2007.  The unions believe that the extent of current difficulties has been made worse by senior management’s flawed approach to licence fee negotiations with government which has led to Delivering Quality First, and its threat of 2,000 job losses and cuts to staff terms and conditions.

The settlement, clinched behind closed doors by BBC management with Jeremy Hunt has frozen the licence fee until 2017 and introduced new funding responsibilities for the BBC including the World Service, S4C, BBC Monitoring, local TV and broadband.  This will result in 2,000 job losses.

The ballot closes on May 21.

You can hear an interview with BECTU assistant general secretary, Luke Crawley, explaining the reasons for the ballot in the PODCAST here 


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