BBC Resources sale goes ahead
Advertisements have been published today inviting bids for the BBC's TV facilities subsidiary.
The move came as BECTU neared the completion of talks about guarantees on terms and conditions for the company's 1,000 staff after Resources Ltd is sold.
During the course of the discussions with the BBC, which is the outright owner of the company at present, BECTU has been offered a three-year pledge that conditions of service will be honoured, and a five-year guarantee that any staff made redundant by a new owner would be paid off using the BBC's severance formula.
However, negotiators are still considering a promise that "best endeavours" will be used to secure a final-salary pension scheme under a new owner.
The union had been looking for a cast-iron guarantee that staff would have access to a worthwhile pension under a new boss, and the BBC's present bargaining position falls short.
Concerns about the BBC's good intentions over pensions have been shaken within Resources Ltd by a plan to TUPE-transfer seven post-production staff to Red Bee Media Ltd without any access to the playout company's final salary scheme.
The union has said it is unhappy at the selling off of yet another major asset, especially one that is a core part of the BBC's programme making capabilties.
Helen Ryan, Supervisory Official for BECTU's BBC Division, said: "The BBC will be losing over a thousand highly talented staff with technical, operational and creative expertise.
"Following months of negotiations and the threat of industrial action earlier in the year over the planned sale, the BBC has agreed to give certain guarantees including the protection of all terms and conditions for three years and no compulsory redundancies for 12 months."
Ryan continued: "The BBC has stated it is committed to staff interests so surely that must include a final salary pension scheme. If this issue remains unresolved, we cannot rule out the possibility of industrial action in the future."
BBC Resources, with revenues of £125m, is one of the UK's leading providers of broadcast production facilities and services, made up of outside broadcasts, studios and post production.
This includes 15 television outside broadcast units, the production studios at Television Centre and Elstree, and post-production suites in Bristol, Birmingham and London.
"The BBC has promised it will consult BECTU throughout this tendering process and we will be closely monitoring bids and the effects these will have on our members," Ryan concluded.
The planned sale of Resources follows earlier sales of BBC Technology to Siemens and BBC Broadcast to Red Bee Media.