the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

18 August 2010

Hundreds of BBC staff have joined BECTU in recent weeks to help the fight against cuts to staff pensions.

The union is advising new recruits who want to vote in the on-going industrial action ballot to ensure that BECTU receives application forms no later than 24 August. Join BECTU

Ballot papers are issued by the independent scrutineer - Electoral Reform Ballot Services Ltd - and must be returned to their offices by the 1 September deadline.

So much is at stake

The BBC wants to limit pension increases from April 2011 to a maximum 1 one per cent a year irrespective of increases in basic pay derived either from the annual pay award or promotion.

The proposals, announced on 29 June, have met with widespread criticism from staff, the majority of whom are affected by the plans. Thousands attended meetings last month called by BECTU, the NUJ and Unite across the country.

BECTU officials wrote an open letter to non-union members on 2 August to stress the importance of the pensions campaign. 

"The BBC's proposals are a fundamental and long-lasting attack on staff terms and conditions and are intent on driving staff out of the final salary schemes," commented BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey.

The proposals tabled by senior management offer no protection for accrued benefits and will see future pension entitlement cut adrift from basic salary.

The BBC also wants to close the only scheme which remains open to new staff - the career average scheme - from December 2010.

Thompson promises one rule for all

Publicity surrounding the feather-bedding of senior executives pensions forced director-general, Mark Thompson, last week to promise an end to the so-called Furbs scheme which has topped up the pension pots of some 50 senior executives by more than £1million a year.

As the unions wait to see how firm Mark Thompson’s promise of one system for staff and managers pensions will be, BBC staff are presented with a stark choice: accept that future increases in pensionable salary will be capped at 1% or forego all future pay increases above that amount.

Last weekend the Telegraph online highlighted the BBC’s uncompromising statement to staff. Ariel, the BBC staff weekly, devotes more than four pages to pensions in this week's issue and quotes Mark Thompson as saying "this is tougher than some of the big redundancy programmes - it affects everyone."

Commenting further Gerry Morrissey said:

“BBC staff need to come together in BECTU, and our sister unions, to help to bring the BBC to its senses. The current proposals are draconian and impact on BBC staff, young and old. 

"If these proposals are not challenged they will damage staff and their families and they will damage the BBC itself.

“There are other ways of cutting the deficit than this direct and terminal hit on staff benefits.” 

The joint unions are expecting strong YES votes in the ballots which close on 1 September. Representatives from across the country will meet in London on 2 September to discuss the ballot results and to decide on next steps. 

Related campaign stories 

Q&A1 and Q&A 2.