the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

2 August 2010

As BECTU and co-organisers in the BBC prepare for a ballot on pay and pensions starting this week (5 August), BECTU sends an open letter to staff who are not yet union members and asks 'how much longer can you stand on the sidelines?'

An open letter to non-union staff at the BBC from BECTU officials, Gerry Morrissey and Helen Ryan.

"Dear BBC member of staff

Trade unions representing staff at the BBC are leading a major campaign on pay and pensions. This campaign is arguably the most important all-staff campaign in recent years. It is a campaign for BBC staff which the unions must win.

At stake is the future financial security of thousands of BBC workers, whatever their current length of service.  

Drastic cuts in pensions

the pensions proposal affects every member of BBC staff and their family, now and in the future

All of the BBC’s current three pension schemes are contracted to pay pensions which relate basic salary to retirement income. However, in June 2010, senior management revealed plans to limit increases in pensionable salary (whether derived from the annual review or from promotional increases) to a maximum 1% a year. 

This proposal seeks to tear up the BBC’s contract with staff on pensions by destroying the relationship between basic income and earnings in retirement.

We hope you can see that the pensions proposal affects every member of BBC staff and their family, now and in the future.  

In the past month, BECTU officials have met with thousands of BBC staff up and down the country and the majority have been union members. Their support for the campaign has been overwhelming. However, whilst union density in some departments is high, union membership across the BBC will need to be much higher if we are to win this most crucial of campaigns.

BECTU provides a valuable service to members and is recognised to represent all BBC staff, whatever role they perform and wherever they work: in the BBC, BBC Worldwide, Studios and Post-Production, World Service and amongst several contractors too (many contractor staff continue to be directly affected by these talks).

Union members pay a subscription for the extensive support provided by BECTU; thousands of affected staff receive the benefit of the union’s work and make no contribution to the huge effort involved.

Is it right to take the benefit of the union's work without making a contribution? We don’t think so and neither do your union colleagues.

(And what's more, staff who are not in the union have a negative impact on the union’s ability to bargain for the best deals).

If you care about your pension, join us

We invite you to join BECTU to add your number to the thousands of union members who support this vital pensions campaign. Higher membership levels will have a direct and positive effect on our ability to persuade the BBC to re-think its proposals; the BBC's attitude in talks will reflect its assessment of the support we have.

Don’t stand on the sidelines whilst others work on your behalf.  All BBC staff and colleagues working in companies related to the BBC, should join their union. BECTU membership costs no more than 1p in the £1 and a flat rate of £10 a month applies to all new joiners for the first year of membership. 

Join BECTU (visit this page for the attached BBC DAS form which can be downloaded and returned by email).

You can help us to win by joining us. Join us and you can also play your part.

If you have any questions or queries about this letter, or about the campaign itself, do let us know. Email us at with BBC Open Letter in the subject heading.

Yours faithfully

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary
Helen Ryan, supervisory official.

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