BBC “surprised” at unions pay claim
The BBC has expressed “surprise” at the claim by its recognised unions for an increase of £1800 per person from 1 August.
The BBC’s response to the claim, submitted jointly by BECTU, the NUJ and Unite two weeks ago, draws attention to the substantial effects of the economic downturn, not only on the media but on other parts of industry.
“The loss of disposable income, coupled with a below inflation increase last year and the additional pressures which staff face due to massive job cuts, deserve a more positive response from the BBC”
Writing to the joint unions, Mike Goodie, the BBC’s Employee Relations and People Strategy Director, states:
“I have to be candid that against this background, we were very surprised to receive your claim for an uplift of £1800 per person, effectively an increase of 6 per cent. This claim would add £51 million to our cost base, which is not only unaffordable but would be inexplicable to the general public.”
BECTU’s BBC Supervisory Official, Helen Ryan, anticipated the BBC’s response when she explained that BBC staff were keen not to find themselves even worse off in the next review period, given two years of below inflation rises and the prospect of increased pension costs.
“Our members identify the 0.75% increase in pensions contributions due on 1 April as a pay cut - especially given the rumours that the BBC may be intending not to increase its own employer contributions,” Helen Ryan explained.
“The loss of disposable income, coupled with a below inflation increase last year and the additional pressures which staff face due to massive job cuts, deserve a more positive response from the BBC,” said Helen Ryan.
Emphasis on the low paid
“That said, looking forward to future talks, the BBC does appear to agree with the joint unions, that this year’s review needs to be closely focussed on the needs of the Corporation’s lowest paid staff,” Helen Ryan said.
Quoting the BBC’s Director-General, Mark Thompson, Mike Goodie explained, “The Director-General has made it clear to managers and to staff that he believes the small amount available for any settlement should be weighted towards the lowest paid.”
In addition to the claim for a flat rate increase of £1800, the joint unions have also called on the BBC to make a specific commitment to job security by declaring no further redundancy proposals for the 12 months from August 2009.
Pensions is a key issue
Pensions will be a key factor in this year’s negotiations given the BBC’s determination to increase staff contributions by 0.75% in April 2009, with a further increase of 0.75% to follow in April 2010.
The joint unions have asked the BBC to defer the increases in light of the constraints on BBC staff; a specific meeting on pensions has been requested by the end of this month.
The joint unions will be meeting again to discuss the pay claim.
Union officials in BBC Resources Ltd have submitted the same claim to Resources management as has been submitted in the BBC.
Union representatives in BBC Worldwide are finalising their pay claim this week.
Thursday 12 February 2009