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BBC unions say “High-handed BBC managers could provoke Jubilee strike”

BECTU flag in gold and blue BECTU, the NUJ and Unite will be balloting on strike action at the BBC. The ballot will get underway on 30 April 2012.

19 April 2012

The BBC unions will be targeting the Jubilee celebrations following BBC and BBC Studios & Post Production management's decision to write directly to members of staff with a derisory pay offer instead of negotiating through the agreed channels.

BBC Joint Unions Press Release issued 19 April 2012

The joint unions will serve notice of a strike ballot tomorrow (20 April) with a planned balloting period beginning on the 30 April and concluding on 21 May 2012.

BBC unions lead negotiator, Gerry Morrissey (BECTU general secretary), said:

“By going over the unions’ heads and increasing our members salaries before negotiations are concluded, the BBC is very helpfully placing a down-payment in our members pockets to help them through the forthcoming Jubilee strike.

"This is an act of poor faith. It adds injury to the insulting pay offer. The BBC had actually asked us to consult members and had scheduled a meeting on pay with us for next week. We had informed them that a direct offer of 1% would be seen as a hostile act by the joint unions. We now have no option but to call a strike ballot at the earliest opportunity.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: 

“The NUJ does not accept the implementation of this derisory pay award with no attempt at genuine negotiation.  It is not just about pay.  It is about the BBC’s failure to negotiate on a range of issues affecting our members.  This includes the failure of the BBC management to properly implement a re-deployment scheme that was agreed in autumn. This has left us with members needlessly facing compulsory redundancy.   There are jobs these members could go to, but the BBC is failing to fulfil its part of the bargain.”

Mike Eatwell, Unite national official, said:

In the middle of a pay negotiation management have chosen to terminate collective bargaining and impose a sum. That is not acceptable to UNITE who will oppose any withdrawal of our members' right to bargain on their pay and conditions.”

Union members had already voiced frustration at the BBC's refusal to negotiate on their 2012 pay claim. Only one meeting has been held with the recognised unions, BECTU, the NUJ and Unite, at which management tabled a ‘final’ offer of one per cent, subject to a minimum increase of £400. The BBC has now written directly to staff stating its intention to implement the pay award from June rather than August.

The unions' claim, submitted in January, sought a pay increase of two per cent above RPI, subject to a minimum increase of £1000. The unions justified the modest claim by highlighting that staff salaries had fallen 8 per cent behind inflation since 2007.  

Commenting earlier this week on the BBC's final offer, Gerry Morrissey said:

“The unions must make a stand and challenge the BBC's final offer because failure to do so will result in more of the same until at least 2017.  The BBC's licence fee has been set until that date and by making a final offer of 1% this year it is clear that the staff are at the end of the food chain when it comes to management priorities for expenditure.”

In common with the workforce in other parts of the economy, BBC staff are working in straightened times; however 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 2000 job losses and cuts to staff terms and conditions.

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