Action threat over BBC Worldwide pay

Union members in BBC Worldwide could ballot for strike action after rejecting a 2.6% pay offer.

In an e-mail ballot of BECTU members, more than 80% voted against the company's pay offer, while the NUJ reported almost unanimous rejection in a separate poll.

Union negotiators will meet members tomorrow, May 18, to discuss the outcome of the ballots, and are likely to move quickly to a postal vote on industrial action.

The offer from BBC Worldwide Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, came in response to a union claim for a 5% increase. During pay talks management said that the company could not offer any more than the prevailing inflation figure of 2.6%.

Talks had opened with an offer of 2.5%, but the company quickly agreed to raise this by 0.1%.

Only one concession was made to the unions during negotiations, when a £450 minimum payment was attached to the offer in order to assist lower-paid staff.

BBC Worldwide conducts its pay bargaining separately from the main BBC, where pay talks with the unions began only a week ago. Worldwide's settlement date for pay increases is July 1, a month ahead of the BBC.

Union officials believe there is plenty of time to run an industrial action ballot, and give the company notice of disruption before the July anniversary date.

17 May 2004