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Ballot for strike action called for at BBC


10 June 2014

NUJ members of the BBC have voted to ballot for industrial action, including strikes, after dismissing a "derisory" pay deal of 1 per cent.

A meeting of BBC Mothers and Fathers of Chapel voted for a motion which called for major reform at the corporation to address the huge differential between the pay of journalists and programme makers and the senior management.

The motion called for a radical overhaul of executive pay and perks. It noted the salary of Tony Hall, director general, was £450,000 a year, Anne Bulford, managing director, £395,00 and James Purnell, director, strategy and digital, £295,000. The meeting heard that managers still received car allowances and generous expense accounts.

The mood of the meeting showed that the director general's honeymoon is over. Staff had been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and looked forward to a constructive relationship after the troubled tenure of Mark Thompson, whose backroom deal with government led to the latest programme of cuts at the corporation.

Members said they now felt betrayed by Tony Hall and many voiced the anger of their colleagues over the pay deal, particularly in the knowledge that there was no hope of a decent increase in the years to come. The BBC offered 1 per cent, tied to a minimum of £390. Those earning more than £50,000 will get nothing.

The motion addressed concern that, while staff are being expected to "get austerity", management continued to enjoy high salaries and is bringing in jobs for its friends at enhanced rates by bypassing the BBC's normal recruitment procedures.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The union has argued for a genuine alternative to the excessive payments to managers and the waste in the corporation. There are structural changes that can be made that would result in fair pay and free up cash for programming. Our calculations show that if pay was capped at £150,000, this would free £20 million which could be spent on journalism and programming. This would be to the benefit of the staff and licence payers.
"We also want to see the BBC management in the run up to the licence fee deal and charter renewal fighting on behalf of the corporation and battling to maintain the high standards and quality programme-making that has made the BBC one of the premier broadcasters on the globe."

The motion, passed unanimously, said: 

"This MFoC group condemns the BBC pay offer of 1per cent, tied to a minimum of just £390, for those staff earning under £50,000 and endorses the general secretary’s rejection of the offer.
"It condemns the director general's view that it is vital that the overall pay increase is maintained at just 1 per cent in order to demonstrate that the BBC 'gets austerity' and notes that Tony Hall earns £450,000 a year, Anne Bulford £395,000 and James Purnell earns £295,000.
"Unless there is a meaningful increase in the pay offer, with a settlement significantly more than RPI, this group chapel agrees to move towards an industrial action ballot and commits to campaigning robustly for a strong Yes vote.
"This MFoC group supports the campaign called for by the general secretary for broad-based reform at the BBC, that addresses the enormous gap that has evolved between senior managers running the BBC and the journalists and programme makers producing the content, and involves a radical overhaul of executive pay and perks. It condemns the behind the scenes and dishonest re-homing of senior managers into grade 11, where as a result 66 per cent of those in this bracket now earn salaries above the ceiling of the grade. It notes that the NUJ demand for a cap on salaries of £150,000 would release £20million into the BBC’s budget, each and every year.
"This MFoC group further condemns the new onslaught of job losses, in News, Radio and potentially in Scotland, the legacy of Mark Thompson’s reign as director general and the consequential programme of cuts under DQF, cuts that have been squarely targeted at frontline journalism, a decision that the current executive team seem committed to following through.
"This group further calls for an immediate recruitment freeze across the BBC and an end to external recruitment and the growing trend for jobs for friends. It reaffirms our commitment to redeployment of BBC staff and our longstanding policy that we do not accept any compulsory redundancies of NUJ members. It also gives full backing to all chapels engaged in negotiations over proposals to cut jobs and pledges support for any that call for industrial action should there be an unsatisfactory outcome to negotiations."

The ballot will run from 26 June to 15 July.

Tags: , bbc, ballot, executive pay, tony hall, strike, cuts, delivering quality first, broadcasting, radio, bbc news, pay and conditions, pay, bbc licence fee