BBC members vote on 3% final offer

BECTU and NUJ members are voting on an improved pay offer from the BBC.

After a month of negotiations, management tabled a final offer to BBC and BBC Technology staff of a 3% rise, with a minimum increase of £500 p.a.

The offer will run for 12 months from the settlement date of August 1, and includes an increase of £1.14 per hour in night payments from midnight to 0400. All associated payments like overtime rates and the Christmas/New Year premium will be raised by 3%, along with the floors and ceilings of the BBC's 11-band pay structure.

BECTU and the NUJ will be advising members that the offer is the best that can be achieved through negotiation, and represents a significant shift from the BBC's opening bid of a 2.3% increase when negotiations began.

Members working for BBC Resources Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary company which began separate pay bargaining this year, are also due to vote on a 3% increase from August 2001, with the same improvement in night payments as the central BBC, and the £500 minimum increase.

However, the company has offered a two-stage 20-month pay deal which includes a further increase of 2.5% in April 2002, together with a £100 flat rate payment. April would then become the fixed anniversary date for Resources Limited staff, and no further increase would be negotiated until April 2003.

Despite concerns about the impact of a new Resources Limited pay date on overall BBC pay bargaining, BECTU will be recommending that members should accept the 20-month offer in their postal ballot.

In identical pay claims, submitted in April, the unions demanded that the BBC and Resources Limited should offer increases equal to inflation plus £1,000 to each member of staff, along with significant improvements in night pay.

Negotiators warned managers that hopes of a generous settlement had been raised by the BBC's 4.8% licence increase and figures indicating that the going rate of public sector settlements was well above inflation.

The BBC responded with an opening offer of 2.3%, which was gradually inched up through 2.5% and then 2.7% in the course of negotiations. Under a union threat of ballots for industrial action, the BBC raised its final offer from 2.7% to 3.0%, which negotiators believe is the best offer that the Corporation is prepared to table.

BBC Resources Limited agreed to match the BBC's headline percentage offer, in the face of BECTU's warning that company staff would not accept anything less than their colleagues in other parts of the Corporation.

A condition of the Resources offer is that BECTU will enter discussions about a new pay and reward system for the company, which management hope to introduce in April 2003.

The BECTU pay ballots, one for BBC and BBC Technology members, and another for BBC Resources Limited, are due to start in week beginning July 2.

For many BBC members, it will be the second postal ballot in less than a month. A separate vote about an embargo on appraisal interviews among BBC and BBC Technology members closes on June 29, and is expected to reveal a strong majority in favour of the boycott, which is being organised in protest against the BBC's performance pay system.

Another BBC subsidiary company, Worldwide Limited, which has conducted separate pay bargaining for more than 10 years, has imposed a 2.5% pay settlement on staff without union agreement.

Union members in Worldwide voted against the 2.5% increase because of associated cuts in overtime and other earnings. Company managers had said that if the offer was rejected they would impose an increase of 2.0% on the July 1 settlement date.

However, the full increase was paid, in spite of its rejection by members, and the company has not given notice that the earnings cuts will be forced through. BECTU is consulting members in the company, and may run another postal ballot if necessary.

28 June 2001