Strike threat over BBC pay

Unions could call strike action after rejecting a BBC pay offer.

At a meeting on June 22, BECTU and the NUJ turned down a revised pay offer of 2.7%, with a minimum payment of £500, and warned management that the unions were ready to run strike ballots in the BBC, and in BBC Technology Limited.

The 2.7% headline figure was offered following the unions' rejection of 2.5%, with a £400 minimum, tabled by management at an earlier pay meeting.

Management told the unions that despite a 4.8% increase in licence income this year, the BBC could not afford to improve its pay offer further because of the need to fund new programmes and digital channels.

Union negotiators said that the overall offer - worth 2.86% of the BBC's salary bill according to management - fell far short of the original claim for a cost-of-living rise plus a £1,000 flat-rate payment for each member of staff.

At a previous pay meeting, the unions had reduced the £1,000 claim to £500. However the BBC emphatically ruled out any flat-rate component in its pay offer, on the grounds that each £100 paid to staff would add 0.4% to the wage bill, making the overall cost of the claim unreasonably expensive.

Management estimated that the cost of the unions' RPI plus £500 claim would add 4.5% to the BBC's wage bill.

An increase of £1.14 per hour for working between midnight and 0400 was also offered by management, bringing improved night payments to 5,236 staff, according to figures gathered last year.

Under current agreements with the BBC staff are paid a premium of £5.21 for each hour worked between midnight and 0400, and £13.02 per hour between 0400 and 0600. During the June 22 meeting, unions proposed that any improvements in night pay should be directed towards the midnight to 0400 period.

Union negotiators welcomed the concessions made by management, particularly over the night payments claim, and accepted that significant improvements had been made since pay talks began in May. However, the BBC was told that the overall offer compared poorly with the 4.8% increase in the Corporation's licence income.

Negotiators estimated that the overall cost of the revised offer was less than one sixth of the new cash raised by the BBC's licence increase this year.

Management promised to consider their position, but were not optimistic about making any further improvement in the offer. BECTU and the NUJ will make a decision on strike ballots once the BBC has made its final position clear - probably by June 26.

Elsewhere in the BBC, subsidiary Resources Limited is due to meet BECTU on June 26, when the union hopes that the company will improve its 20-month pay offer which consists of two staged 2.5% increases.

22 June 2001