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BBC pensions: strike dates named as consultations continue

13 September 2010

BBC unions have today (13 September) named a number of strike dates. However consultations with members will continue to consider a new proposal from the BBC.

BECTU, the NUJ and Unite issued the following joint press release today (Monday 13 September).

BBC unions name strike dates as talks continue with members

BECTU, the NUJ and Unite have today announced a further programme of meetings with members to discuss new pension proposals from the BBC. However the backdrop to the consultations will be formal notice of a number of strike dates.

These developments follow formal talks with the BBC and a meeting with local reps today to consider a new pension option proposed by the BBC.

Senior management today proposed that BBC staff consider:

  • Becoming deferred members of their current final salary scheme in order to inflation-proof their accrued benefits;
  • Joining a new career average scheme to build up future pension entitlement based on an employee contribution of 7% (the existing career average scheme is based on employee contributions of 4%); an accrual rate of 1/60th per year of service; a retirement age of 65.

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary said:

"We believe that a further round of meetings with members is the next best course of action in the current dispute.

"Whilst the BBC has heard and responded to some of our concerns, we are disappointed that the BBC's response fails to take account of the long term implications of the worsening of pension terms for staff and their families.

“We believe that the BBC should be prepared to justify its position fully by agreeing to revisit pension benefits in April 2011 should official figures confirm that the total scheme deficit is less than £1.5bn. That said, the latest proposals from the BBC warrant further detailed examination with members."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary said:

"Our strong and determined stand against the BBC's pensions robbery has resulted in today's proposals. We continue to believe they are unacceptable and unfair. We will consult with members, give the BBC the chance to address our ongoing concerns. If they fail to do so they will face strike action."

Peter Skyte, Unite national official said:

"While the new proposals retain a defined benefit pension for current employees, protect members’ accrued pension entitlements and go some considerable way to continue the link between basic pay and pension increases, they fall short in some areas and require clarification in others. The BBC has a world class workforce which deserves world class pensions to provide for surety and security in retirement. We feel it necessary to consult further with our members on the BBC's latest proposals before determining a response and further action."

Further consultation starts 20 September

Union meetings will be held at key BBC sites from 20 – 30 September.  The BBC has been served with notice of strike action on 5 & 6 October – this coincides with the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. After today’s union side talks, notice of action on two additional dates - 19 & 20 October - will also be served.

Notice served for action on 20 & 21 September will be withdrawn to allow for meetings with BBC staff starting next week. 

On 29 June the BBC opened a consultation with its 19,000 staff intent on introducing a cap of 1 per cent on annual increases to pensionable salary. The unions described the move as a 'pensions robbery'.

In response the unions insisted that future pension provision should be based on a defined benefit model and offer protection for accrued entitlements backed up by BBC agreement to revisit any agreed changes to pensions should the confirmed deficit figure, due in April 2011, prove to be less than £1.5bn.

The BBC has claimed that the total pension scheme deficit is £1.97bn. The unions believe that figure is inflated and have accused the BBC of launching a premature and damaging review of scheme benefits.

On 1 September union members voted by 9 to 1 in favour of strike action to challenge the BBC’s proposals.

ENDS

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