the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

28 July 2010

BECTU provides additional Q&As for BBC and BBC contractor staff affected by the ballot on industrial action over pay and pensions. Ballot papers will be despatched on 5 August.

Q: BECTU will be balloting its members for industrial action starting on 5 August. Why?

A: We are taking this course of action to protect the rights of union members to challenge BBC management on their pensions proposals. Whilst talks with management will continue during August there is no guarantee that they will succeed. The ballot, which relates to the union’s campaign on pay and pensions, opens on 5 August and will close on 1 September. BBC staff who are not BECTU members are urged to join us to support the campaign and to secure the protection provided by the ballot.

Q: What protection does union membership provide in an industrial action situation?

A: Lawful ballots for industrial action, whether it be for strike action or action short of strike, provide those in the constituency with protection from dismissal for 12 weeks. 

Q: If members deliver a ‘yes’ vote how will the type of action be determined?

A: BECTU will consult its representatives – who are in touch with their memberships – to agree any course of industrial action. Representatives will meet in London on 2 September to consider the result of the ballot.

The ballot paper will ask for a mandate from members to take both ‘strike action’ and ‘action short of strike action’ to give the campaign the flexibility it needs. However, the attitude of the BBC so far, makes it clear that members will need to support strike action in large numbers if we are to persuade BBC executives to reconsider their position on pensions.

If you have any queries about the progress of the campaign do contact us at with BBC Pay and Pensions Dispute in the subject header.

Q: How early could action start?

A: Assuming members vote for industrial action, the union is obliged to give 7 days notice of its intention to take action, so the earliest date for action would be 9 September (bearing in mind the meeting of reps on Tuesday 2 September). The union has 28 days from the close of voting to act on the ballot mandate.

Q: How can I help to influence the discussions?

A: 1) Make sure that you are clear about what the pensions proposals mean for you. Consult the pensions modeller via BBC Gateway.
2)   Non-members should join BECTU (new members pay £10 a month for the first year).
3)   Contact BBC management at to let them know what you think of the proposals.

Q: If action is to be taken, can freelances be stopped from doing the work of BBC staff?

A: We cannot instruct our freelance members to refuse work offered by the BBC but we will appeal to them not to accept work which coincides with industrial action. The union’s freelance members have always been very supportive in previous campaigns.


Update provided 28 July 2010. View earlier Q&As.