No deal yet on BBC Resources sale

BECTU has assured members that no agreement has been reached over a sale of the BBC’s TV facilities subsidiary.

Members in the Outside Broadcast business unit, based in Langley Bucks, learned today that they are being sold to Satellite Information Services Ltd at the end of March.

Colleagues working in Resources TV studios in West London and Elstree have been told that they will remain within the BBC after talks to sell the unit failed, however the union is still seeking guarantees over their redundancy entitlements if Television Centre closes, as anticipated, in 2012.

In the third business unit within BBC Resources, Post Production, there is uncertainty about the future as talks continue with a potential buyer, with no guarantee about pension and redundancy rights if the unit is sold off.

The union has warned the BBC that industrial action is possible if members in Studios and Post Production are not given adequate assurances about future redundancies.

In talks earlier this week, the BBC argued that the commitments it was willing to make to OB staff over terms and conditions, including pensions, were good enough to allow the sale to go ahead almost immediately, rather than 90 days after the announcement of a preferred bidder as previously agreed with BECTU.

Negotiators responded by calling for sufficient time to ballot members on the sell-off proposal, and a postal vote is likely to begin immediately after the union meets SIS representatives on Tuesday March 11.

In the event of any job cuts in the privately-owned OB business before 2013, members will given exactly the same pension and redundancy treatment as they would have received within the BBC, and will also have access to a defined benefit pension scheme.

BECTU has opposed the sale of any part of BBC Resources since the sell-off was first conceived in 2005, and in a recent postal ballot more than nine out of ten union members voted against the privatisation in principle.

Meetings are being set up for BECTU members where representatives will outline the sell-off plan in detail, and explain the pension guarantees for OB staff won during negotiations.

Friday 7 March 2008