BECTU meets BBC on Resources Ltd

BECTU have met BBC management on their plans to turn the Corporation's Resources Directorate into a limited company.

The meeting on 25 February at BBC White City was held between union representatives and BBC Resources management, including Chief Executive Rod Lynch.

This follows the lobby of BBC Governors on 20 February.

The plans by Resources management to turn the Resources Directorate into a BBC wholly owned limited company have not been approved by the Corporation's Governors, who will be examining the plans again at their next meeting in March following further work on detail, including fair trading safeguards.

It was confirmed that the target date, if the plans are approved, was 1 April 1997. However management expected this could be affected by a number of factors - not least the timing of the General Election.

Management said they were not in a position to issue the union with formal notice of their intention to make Resources a wholly owned subsidiary.

BECTU said it was concerned about the break-up of the BBC implicit in the plans, and raised concerns union members had expressed about the introduction of Resources Ltd, including the possibility of the plan leading to full privatisation. Management denied that privatisation was part of their plans. However they did say the question may be raised in the future if Resources had a number of successful years of trading.

Resources management said they had spent the last three years managing a declining business, with BBC programme makers requiring less resources at lower cost than before.

They said they believed the status quo was not a viable option as it would leave them with a negative cash position over the next five years. After taking legal advice they claimed the only way they could increase external income was to make Resources a wholly owned subsidiary in order to avoid an Office of Fair Trading challenge.

BECTU said there was no need to make Resources a wholly owned subsidiary in order to trade on the margins externally, especially since management had said their intention was to replace lost BBC income with external income. The union also said that any difficulties the BBC would have with the Office of Fair Trading were not likely to change as a result of the introduction of BBC Resources Ltd.

Management said their view was the change to company status would mean that staff would transfer under the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations.

The union team said that if management expected staff to believe in and co-operate with their plans then they would, in turn, be expected to provide guarantees about the future in a limited company over the next five years, including:

  • Job security
  • Maintenance of earnings for staff
  • Core terms and conditions, including redundancy provision
  • Continuation of National pay bargaining
  • Continuation of Pension provisions for new as well as existing staff

Resources management replied by stating that no employee in the country would be prepared to commit to all of these points - however they wished to consider them carefully before responding.

The meeting was adjourned and will be re-convened to hear management's response during the week beginning 17 March.

25 February 1997
Revised 10 March 1997