Work-to-rule in BBC Resources

Members in BBC Resources London Operations begin industrial action next week.

A work-to-rule is due to begin at midnight on Sunday March 4, shortly after new contracts are imposed by management.

Under their new contract terms, staff in London Operations, part of BBC Resources Ltd, face significant cuts in earnings due to changes in payments for long days, short breaks, and travel to locations.

The work-to-rule consists of four instructions: members are being asked to refuse duties longer than 12 hours, or breaks shorter than 11; an embargo is imposed on ad hoc acting duties; location staff will report to their base instead of site unless transport is provided at the BBC's expense; and members will refuse to communicate with the BBC during off-duty periods.

Read instructions to members

All the sanctions are aimed directly at changes in terms and conditions which management hope will save £6m a year on the wage bill.

As well as imposing new contracts, London Operations management are also planning to make more than 40 staff compulsorily redundant. Notices of dismissal have already been issued, and staff are due to leave employment at the end of March.

A peace offer tabled by management following a one-day strike in December was rejected by members in January, and staff in TV Studios, Post-Production and Graphics, and Outside Broadcasts were given immediate notice that the contract changes would be imposed without agreement on March 3.

BECTU is exploring possible legal challenges to the changes, on the grounds that staff were given insufficient notice of the new contracts.

Industrial action beyond the work-to-rule is being considered by the union, and further strikes have not been ruled out.

Letter sent to members in BBC London Operations.

28th February 2001

    Studios, OBs, Post Production and Manchester OBs

Dear Colleague,


This letter is to instruct you that the industrial action should begin at midnight on Sunday 4th March 2001. We are unable to start the action at midnight on Friday due to legal constraints surrounding the serving of notice of industrial action. This means that you will be unable to start the industrial action on the day the management impose the changes. My apologies for this delay, which should not have happened. This action is separate and in addition to whatever you may be doing in opposition to the BBC's new Recoverable Expenditure Policy.

The action will be continuous and it will take the following forms:

  1. Travel to base at start time of duty and remain there unless Resources Ltd provide transport to and from the site or BBC location, at the BBC's expense. Not to accept any form of transport that requires you to incur expenditure.
  2. Refuse to work any turn of duty in excess of 12 hours and take an 11 hour break between turns of duty.
  3. Not to act up on a daily basis, that is not to do work for which you would normally receive ERR. This does not apply to work for which you receive ongoing acting pay.
  4. When off-duty you should not accept instructions, schedules or changes from the BBC, whether communicated by telephone, email or text message.

It is now clear that Resources Ltd have not given sufficient notice of the termination of your existing contract and commencement of a new contract, which includes the changes to conditions. You are entitled to three months and the BBC has only given one month.

BECTU is discussing this issue with our lawyers with a view to submitting claims to an Employment Tribunal. The basis of the claim will be that by imposing the new conditions Resources Ltd are, in effect, making an unlawful deduction from your wages by causing you to lose money. As soon as we have established the precise grounds on which the Tribunal claims can be submitted I will write to you again with the appropriate form for you to complete.

Yours sincerely,

Supervisory Official

1 March 2001