BBC offers 2-year pay deal

Unions are planning to ballot BBC members on an offer that puts 1.8% on basic rates this year.

If the two-year deal is accepted, basic pay will increase by 1.8% in August 2002, and there will be a further increase in August 2003 of RPI plus 0.5%, provided agreement has been reached by then on a new pay structure and new arrangements for rewarding unpredictable working.

Described by negotiators as "the best that can be achieved through negotiation", the offer also includes a one-off performance increase of 1% to all staff in response to union worries about the performance pay system, as long as the current boycott of appraisal interviews is suspended. The bonus would be consolidated, and would also apply to floors/roofs of pay bands, UPA allowances, nights payments, and 'T' rates.

For low-paid staff the offer includes a promise of £11,500 as a minimum salary across the BBC, and a boost in London Weighting for anyone on a basic salary of less than £22,000.

View the complete offer

Technology opt out

The offer was tabled at a day-long meeting on May 3, which opened with an offer of 1.5% in 2002 and RPI plus 0.5% next year. This was improved this to 1.8% this year, plus the 1% bonus, and RPI plus 0.5% in 2003 during the course of discussions.

Management presented the two-year deal as an integrated package, and warned that it would be withdrawn if the unions attempted to "cherry pick" selected items, without accepting the whole deal.

Although the offer had been expected to cover all BBC staff except those in Worldwide and BBC Resources Ltd, the unions were told that BBC Technology Ltd also wanted to opt out of the talks this year, to allow separate discussions and, potentially, a different pay increase in 2002.

Technology Ltd ruled out a two-year deal for its staff, but indicated that a move of anniversary date from August to April could be proposed.

Members in BBC Broadcast Ltd, which became an incorporated company in April, are covered by the offer and will take part in the ballot.

BECTU members should receive ballot papers in the next week - negotiators will be making no recommendation, but will urge voters to look seriously at the package, warning that nothing better is likely to be won through negotiation alone. If accepted, the increase will be paid from the anniversary date of August 1.

3.2% income increase

The two year pay package was the BBC's response to a claim from BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus, for a one-year pay increase significantly above inflation, a minimum salary of £11,000, and the restoration of rate-for-the-job.

A union call for reinstatement of the special pensions formula for redundant staff, scrapped in March 2002, was rejected, but management did offer a temporary extension of a 1998 ACAS agreement giving 5 months' notice of redundancy while the impact of new employment legislation was considered.

At the pay meeting, the joint unions reminded the BBC that the pay claim had been submitted early, in October 2001, in order to allow adequate time for negotiations before the August 1 anniversary date.

Negotiators pointed out that the BBC's income had increased by 3.2% this year thanks to the RPI+1.5% funding formula, and staff deserved a fair share of the extra finances, especially in light of Greg Dykes "Valuing people" commitment - part of the "Making it Happen" initiative announced in February. Inflation in March was 1.3%, but earnings increases were running well above this level.

Management replied by saying that the BBC was a publicly-funded "goldfish bowl", with its budgets under close scrutiny, and had to spend extra cash on new services and improvements in existing channels. However, they were committed to a "fair outcome" to the pay negotiations, and wanted an "understanding relationship" with the unions. Ideally, they said, only one meeting would be necessary to finalise the offer with union negotiators - in keeping with Dyke's celebrated "cut the crap" approach to BBC bureaucracy.

Unions welcomed the improvements in the offer for low paid staff, especially the £11,500 minimum salary - higher than the original claim - but believed that the London Weighting proposal could cause problems, and suggested that the higher rate should be paid to staff on a basic below £25,000, not the £20,000 figured proposed by the BBC. After discussion, management raised the threshold to £22,000.

Negotiators also expressed reservations about signing up to a two-year agreement which contained a conditional pay rise in the second year - the management offer of RPI+0.5% depended on agreement being reached by August 2003 on a new pay structure and new arrangements for reward of unpredictable working.

Rewarding unpredictability

The two-year timetable would also rule out a claim for better nights' payments that the unions had planned to include in the 2003 pay claim, and negotiators argued that reward for night working should be included on the agenda of the talks on a replacement for UPAs.

Both sides agreed a statement defining the scope of the talks on rewarding unpredictability:

"The BBC wishes to consider what is the most appropriate method of compensating staff who, for operational reasons actually suffer last minute unscheduled disruptions in their working lives which require them to work at short notice. The unions accept that this is not a review of night pay rates, or an opportunity to return to weekend rates or shift allowances, however the BBC recognises that the unions wish to make representations on unsocial hours working and the frequency of nights as part of these discussions."

A major part of the pay claim was a demand for "rate-for-the-job" to be re-introduced. Although warning that the diversity of BBC jobs - nearly 1,500 separate job descriptions exist in the Corporation - would make this difficult, management proposed a joint working party to devise a new pay and grading system in which staff would have a clear idea of their pay rate once they were fully qualified.

Management were anxious to resolve the unions' concerns about the performance pay system which had led to a boycott of appraisal interviews this year. Unions were given an assurance that any new pay system "would not link appraisals with performance pay", and in recognition of the contribution made by staff in the last year, management offered a BBC-wide bonus of 1% in 2002, conditional on the boycott being suspended.

Unions welcomed the special provisions in the offer for lower-paid staff, although the London Weighting boost would have to be implemented sensitively to avoid putting some staff in a situation where next year's pay rise put them on a salary which did not qualify for the extra £238. Management confirmed that staff in this situation would have their extra London Weighting "red-ringed" and would not lose it.

BBC's offer for 2002-2004

2-year pay deal, with extras for low paid staff, linked to talks on a new pay and grading system and replacement of UPAs, as well as withdrawal of the boycott on appraisals.

Basic pay

  • August 1 2002 - pay rise of 1.8%
  • August 1 2003 - pay rise of RPI+0.5%

London Weighting

  • For staff with basic higher than £22,000 LW will be increased from £2,833 to £2,912 in 2002 (2.8%), and by the percentage increase in 2003.
  • For staff with basic below £22,000, LW increases in 2002 to £3,250. Affects 5,375 staff

Low paid staff

  • Minimum salary across BBC of £11,500 from August 2002, affecting 230 staff.

Performance pay

  • Blanket performance award of 1% to all staff in 2002 (consolidated), with talks on a new pay and grading system during 2002/3 (see below).

Redundancy formula

  • Guarantee of 5 months' notice of redundancy extended until December 31 2002, pending the implementation of new legislation.

The above are conditional on reaching agreement on:

New pay and grading structure

  • BBC wants to open negotiations aimed at introduction of new "clear and transparent" system on August 1 2003. Management say that appraisals will not be linked to any performance pay, and there should be a greater focus on bonuses rather than extra pay increases. According to the BBC, these talks are not aimed at saving money.
  • Management are not willing to agree ahead of the talks to restoration of "rate-for-the-job", but say they share the unions' commitment to a system in which individuals would know the appropriate salary for fully competent staff in their category and area.

Replacement of Unpredictability Allowances

  • Current allowances to be replaced by "new arrangements" for new staff on January 1 2003, and current staff on August 1 2003, after negotiations with unions. Management emphasise that short-notice disruption will be rewarded, but anti-social hours will not. If the two-year pay deal is accepted, management will not impose changes in UPAs for its duration, even if talks with the unions break down.

End of appraisal boycott

  • Current industrial action against performance pay to be withdrawn, otherwise pay offer will be taken off table by management.

2003 pay rise also depends on agreement on a new pay structure and UPA system.

  • If no agreement is reached on these issues by August 2003, the pay rise will be cut from RPI+0.5% to straight RPI.

3 May 2002