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BBC responds at last to union pay claim

Gerry Morrissey pictured in animated mode. Gerry Morrissey is leading the joint union pay talks with the BBC. Pic: Stefano Cagnoni

11 June 2010

Four months after the union submitted its pay claim for BBC staff talks are now underway with senior management.

During discussions yesterday (Thursday 10 June) the BBC offered a flat rate increase of £475 to all staff earning less than £37,726 per year.

The flat rate is equivalent to an increase of 1.2 per cent for staff paid at the upper limit. Under the BBC's proposals, staff paid over £37,726 would experience a pay freeze.

The BBC proposes to spend just one per cent of the total pay bill on this year's review.

Read the full claim

The joint union pay claim submitted by BECTU, the NUJ and Unite in February, puts the case for an RPI increase plus 2 per cent. Inflation stands currently at 5.3 per cent.

BBC staff deserve a fair increase in pay for 2010/11, one which rewards their loyalty and commitment and which recognises the continuing high demands placed upon them

Extreme pressure

BBC managers argued today that the BBC's budget will be under extreme pressure until 2013 when the current licence fee

settlement comes to an end.

The licence fee is set to increase by 2 per cent in 2011/12 but by 0-2 per cent in 2012/13.

Responding to management's presentation on 10 June, the joint unions informed  the BBC that they would not be opposed to a longer term pay deal; however in the event of a one-year pay settlement the unions insisted that they could not consider an agreement which was less than the BBC's licence fee settlement.

In addition, the unions stressed the importance of securing a rise which increases rates at the bottom and top of each pay band.

The unions also put the case that, whilst there was common ground with the BBC in wanting to give additional help to the lower paid, the proposed salary cap for receipt of the flat rate increase was too low.

Many BECTU members would be disenfranchised if this salary cap was to be applied, said BECTU's officials.

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, urged senior management to rethink their position and insisted that the BBC could afford a substantial response to the joint union claim in light of the 2 per cent increase in the licence fee in 2010/11.

Public sector rises

The BBC was accused of being out-of-step with other public sector employers, all of whom face a downward pressure on income. Despite this, nurses are to be awarded a pay increase of 2.5 per cent, teachers are set to receive 2.3 per cent and the police are on course for a 2.5 per cent rise.

"The BBC's plan to spend just one per cent of the pay bill on staff reward in 2010/11 is totally unacceptable," said Gerry Morrissey.

"This claim is about rank and file BBC staff, not senior executives or on screen talent who can command six figure salaries."

"For several years now BBC staff across the country have taken on increased workloads as thousands of jobs have been lost. In spite of this, staff strive to innovate and to deliver quality output with fewer staff," he explained.

The unions pointed out that BBC pay restraint in 2009 meant that its basic pay bill rose by less than the rate of inflation, saving money.

Meanwhile, BBC staff have less disposable income given the 1.5 per cent increase in employee pension contributions since April 2009.

"BBC staff deserve a fair increase in pay for 2010/11, one which rewards their loyalty and commitment and which recognises the continuing high demands placed upon them," concluded Gerry Morrissey.

The joint union pay claim seeks a clear commitment from the BBC to promote staff who act up in senior roles for at least two years; the unions also want to protect existing agreements on the redeployment of staff faced with redundancy.

London living wage should be the minimum

The unions are demanding that the Corporation requires all of its contractors to pay the London living wage - currently £7.85 per hour  - as an absolute minimum.

 A further response from the BBC is expected on Wednesday 30 June.

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