15 June 2010
Following the breakdown of negotiations on the 2009/10 claim for a cost of living allowance at the BFI, BECTU served management with notice of plans for a formal industrial action ballot.
That ballot is underway and the result will be known on Thursday 24 June 2010.
Union members are considering a challenge to the company's decision to ignore a key part of their agreement on pay for the third year in succession.
No consolidated cost of living award
In 2007 the joint unions, BECTU and Unite, agreed a new approach to pay reviews at the BFI based on an annual pay and grading award, to recognise improved staff performance, coupled with a cost of living allowance (COLA). Since 2007 staff have been denied a consolidated cost of living award.
In January this year, the BFI indicated they could not agree an increase due to standstill Grant in Aid which is now a familiar excuse. However, this argument has not prevented appointment to yet more senior management posts including a director of digital on £90,000 per annum.
BECTU national official, Pat Styles, said:
“The BFI have indicated that they are unable to pay any COLA increase to our members this year - this is the third year in a row that our members have not received this increase."
Best efforts to achieve an amicable settlement
BECTU and Unite have used their best efforts to try to achieve an amicable resolution to these talks; officials offered a three-year pay deal and even proposed agreement on additional annual leave in lieu of a COLA increase for 2009/10.
The BFI refused to negotiate a three-year deal. In a letter to all staff BFI Director, Amanda Nevill, sought instead to offer staff not in receipt of a pay and grading award, two days additional annual leave plus £400 in lieu of a COLA increase for both 2009/10 and 2010/11.
The BFI's 25 highest paid managers earn between £60,000 and £109,000 per year, which suggests that around 12% of the BFI’s total salary costs are spent on around 6% of the workforce.
BECTU members and their colleagues in Unite, have insisted that the non-payment of a cost of living increase is unacceptable.
"Our expectation is that we will receive an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote in the ballot,” Pat Styles concluded.
BECTU members work throughout the BFI and have strong organisation at the visitor centre on the Southbank where they look after guests and provide projection services; in Berkhampsted, home to the BFI Archive, BECTU members are responsible for the grading and preservation of film stock.
BECTU’s industrial action ballot will close at 12 noon on Thursday 24 June 2010.
Amended 15 June 2010: 12.46.