BBC annual pay round begins

Pay talks in the BBC have kicked off with a ballot of Resources members on a 2.8% rise.

A claim for a 5% rise has been presented on behalf of staff employed directly by the BBC, while in BBC Technology, another subsidiary, negotiators are calling for a three-year claim.

Management in BBC Resources Ltd were first to table an offer in response to a 5% claim from BECTU and Amicus, in a package which includes significant improvements for trainees within the company. The 2.8% figure was equal to inflation in December 2003, when the claim was presented to management.

Both other claims are based around a demand for a 5% rise, in an effort by BECTU to harmonise pay bargaining in spite of the fragmented structure that now exists in the Corporation.

The two subsidiaries that bargain separately, Resources and Technology, both made a profit in the last financial year, while their main customer, the BBC itself, is expecting a healthy 4.3% increase in its licence fee this April, thanks to an inflation-linked formula introduced by government in 1991.

Votes from Resources members will be counted on March 5, by which time Technology management should have responded to the three-year claim in advance of the company's new pay anniversary date of April. Talks with the BBC, which is sticking to its August anniversary, are expected to begin in March.

A claim on behalf of staff in BBC Worldwide, where the pay date is July, is still being drafted, while staff in BBC Broadcast Ltd are covered by the main BBC pay talks for this year only.

In a separate development the BBC announced that its target date for introduction of a new pay and reward system has been delayed by a year to August 2005.

Originally the Corporation had hoped to launch the new system this year, including controversial changes to Unpredictability Allowances, a premium payment received by more than 9000 staff.

However, delays in formulating proposals meant that no time was left for bargaining with the unions before this year's pay claim was due to be submitted.

20 February 2004