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BBC unions name strike dates

13 September 2010

BECTU, the NUJ and Unite have today announced a further programme of meetings with members to discuss new pension proposals from the BBC. The backdrop to these consultations is formal notice of a number of strike dates.

The BBC has been served with notice of strike action on 5 & 6 October – this coincides with the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. These developments follow formal talks with the BBC and a meeting with local reps to consider a new pension option proposed by the BBC.

Senior management propose that BBC staff now consider:

  • Becoming deferred members of their current final salary scheme in order to inflation-proof their accrued benefits
  • Joining a new career average scheme to build up future pension entitlement based on an employee contribution of 7% (the existing career average scheme is based on employee contributions of 4%)
  • an accrual rate of 1/60th per year of service
  • a retirement age of 65.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary said:

"The BBC's continued insistence that staff pay much more for significantly worse benefits is unacceptable. We will be taking the union's case for fair pensions to a series of members' meetings across the UK. If the BBC fails to listen to the continued anger of staff at these unacceptable pensions changes we will be left with no choice but to strike to stop the pensions robbery"

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary said:

"We believe that a further round of meetings with members is the next best course of action in the current dispute. Whilst the BBC has heard and responded to some of our concerns, we are disappointed that the BBC's response fails to take account of the long term implications of the worsening of pension terms for staff and their families.
"We believe that the BBC should be prepared to justify its position fully by agreeing to revisit pension benefits in April 2011 should official figures confirm that the total scheme deficit is less than £1.5bn. That said, the latest proposals from the BBC warrant further detailed examination with members."

Peter Skyte, Unite national official, said:

"While the new proposals retain a defined benefit pension for current employees, protect members' accrued pension entitlements and go some considerable way to continue the link between basic pay and pension increases, they fall short in some areas and require clarification in others.
"The BBC has a world class workforce which deserves world class pensions to provide for surety and security in retirement. We feel it necessary to consult further with our members on the BBC's latest proposals before determining a response and further action."

Joint union meetings will start on Monday 20 September and will be held at key BBC sites.

After today's union side talks, notice of action on two additional dates – 19 & 20 October – will also be served. Notice served for action on 20 & 21 September will be withdrawn to allow the unions to consult with their members.

The BBC opened a consultation with its 19,000 staff on 29 June intent on introducing a cap of 1 per cent on annual increases to pensionable salary. The unions described the move as a 'pensions robbery'.

In response, the unions insisted that future pension provision should be based on a defined benefit model and offer protection for accrued entitlements backed up by BBC agreement to revisit any agreed changes to pensions should the confirmed deficit figure, due in April 2011, prove to be less than £1.5bn.

The BBC has claimed that the total pension scheme deficit is £1.97bn. The unions believe that figure is inflated and have accused the BBC of launching a premature and damaging review of scheme benefits.

Union members voted by 9 to 1, on 1 September, in favour of strike action to challenge the BBC's proposals.

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, strike, bectu, unite, consultation, pensions