BBC Radio OBs call off action

The prospect of disruption to the BBC’s Olympics coverage on radio has been lifted.

BECTU’s decision to cancel the planned action follows agreement with the BBC to hold senior level talks next month in a further effort to resolve the pay and grading dispute.

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU General Secretary, and Mike Goodie, BBC Employee Relations Director, will lead their respective teams at a meeting of the National Joint Council, the most senior management/union forum in the BBC.

“A strike action ballot had registered a 78% vote in favour.”

Writing to confirm the agreement, Mike Gooddie said: “I am pleased to confirm that the BBC will be calling an NJC to discuss the recent situation concerning the Radio Outside Broadcast Engineers”.

The dispute arises from long-held grievances amongst the specialist team of Outside Broadcasts engineers.

Almost two years ago the group submitted a pay and grading claim intent on securing a clear system of pay progression and regrading to reflect substantial changes to engineers’ duties. The BBC had offered some progress on pay but stopped short of meeting the union’s claim on regrading.

Overall, staff are insisting on an agreement which rewards staff for their additional responsibilites whether they are at an early stage in their career, more experienced, or working at a senior level.

If no agreement is reached at the NJC, both parties have agreed to refer the dispute to binding arbitration.

A referral would see the appointment of a senior academic to consider both sides of the dispute; the arbitrator’s ruling would be final and would have to be accepted by both sides.

Earlier this week, the 23-strong group of engineers rejected management’s offer and notice was served of their intention to start industrial action from 31 July. A strike action ballot had registered a 78% vote in favour.

Prolonged action by the group would have affected BBC Radio’s coverage of the Olympics and a number of headline sporting and music events in the coming weeks.

Saturday 26 July 2008