the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

24 March 2011

Pay talks at the BBC for the 2011/12 review got underway yesterday (23 March).

BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, led the talks on behalf of the joint unions and explained the thinking behind the unions' claim for an across-the-board substantial increase above inflation for all staff covered by union agreements.

In both of the past two years BBC staff have accepted flat rate, below-inflation increases.

In 2010 agreement was reached on a flat rate increase of £475 for all staff paid up to £37,726 per annum. In 2009 staff accepted a rise of £450 which was applied to all staff paid up to £60K per annum.

Modest will not do, say unions

"BBC managers should be in no doubt after yesterday's meeting that there will be real resentment if BBC managers respond to the unions' claim with proposals for a modest increase," explained Gerry Morrissey.

"The rising costs of travel, food, fuel and the impact of the vat increase, set against a period of two years of below-inflation increases and rising pension costs, mean that staff pay at the BBC has regressed.

"The chancellor himself confirmed yesterday in his budget that CPI, the lowest measure of inflation, is set to range between 4-5% for 2011. BBC staff expect to see their incomes grow in real terms this year."

The formal claim was submitted last month after widespread consultation amongst union representatives. 

The claim highlights the additional pressure on staff due to increased workloads resulting from year on year cuts under the Creative Future reorganisation. Added to this, the current Strategy Review involves hundreds of job losses across BBC Online.

Worse still, more staff, again in their hundreds, are affected by the decisions of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cabinet Office to slash funding for the World Service and Monitoring.

Staff also face prolonged uncertainty following the six year licence fee settlement reached last October which means further cuts of 16-20 per cent.

Staff see 'slash and burn'

Writing to the BBC on behalf of the joint unions on 25 February, BECTU's supervisory official, Helen Ryan, stated:

"I highlight all of the above [the multiple cuts exercises referenced above] to paint the picture that all staff can see is slash and burn across the corporation with the onus of maintaining quality output falling on the shoulders of a significantly reduced workforce."

The BBC is due to respond in May when management will meet union offiicals again.