BBC pay offer accepted

A 2.8% pay rise has been accepted by ballots of BECTU members in the BBC and BBC Technology.

In the BBC itself the pay offer, which includes special provisions for lower-paid staff, was accepted by a margin of four to one. Members in BBC Technology Ltd, a wholly-owned BBC subsidiary which now conducts its own pay negotiations, voted for the offer by nearly ten to one.

BECTU has notified the BBC of the ballot results, leaving plenty of time for the pay rise to be processed before the anniversary date of August 1. The union also plans to notify members that the current appraisal boycott will be suspended while talks begin on restoration of a "rate-for-the job" pay system - a promise built into the 2002 pay offer.

Prompt payment of the rise may not, though, be guaranteed this year due to the decision of NUJ members to reject the pay offer a separate postal ballot.

Journalists had been concerned since the pay offer was tabled on May 3 that Unpredictablity Allowances would be threatened by discussions that the unions would have to enter if the pay offer were accepted.

At one stage, Mothers and Fathers of Chapels were urging their members to reject the offer, despite a union acknowledgement that the 2.8% package was the best that could be achieved through negotiation.

BECTU agreed to delay announcing its pay ballot results until June 24, when the NUJ's votes would be available, and representatives could discus tactics.

A further postponement led to a meeting between representatives of the two unions on July 1. NUJ officials now expect to declare a dispute over this year's pay negotiations, and may run an industrial action ballot after a meeting of M/FoCs from across the BBC, highlighting a difference between the unions.

During the pay ballot, negotiators reassured BECTU members that the commitment to discuss UPAs, which helped to secure the 2.8% final offer, did not oblige the unions to accept changes at any stage.

Under the pay offer there is in fact a moratorium on non-agreed changes being made to UPAs - management accepted that the "status quo" on the allowances could not be altered without union agreement until the two-year pay deal expired in August 2004.

BECTU has emphasised that it will defend the interests of members who receive UPAs, but believes that the best tactic is to wait until more is known about the management's plans for change.

Members of electrician's union Amicus are also believed to have accepted the pay offer, but their result has still to be confirmed in writing.

For members in BBC Technology Ltd there should be no ambiguity about the August anniversary date. The company, which employs no journalists, bargains separately from the main BBC, and BECTU expects that the full pay rise will implemented in August pay packets.

Other BBC subsidiaries have also offered pay increases this year - BBC Resources increased rates by 2.5% in April as the second phase of a 20-month deal, and members in BBC Worldwide Ltd accepted a 2.5% increase with improved bonuses last month.

1 July 2002