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Latest BBC Pension Proposal: Not acceptable in present form

17 September 2010

Your reps and joint union negotiators have met to determine next steps in our pensions dispute with the BBC. This follows an email from Mark Thompson sent to all staff outlining the BBC's latest offer on pensions. Let us be clear. We do not believe this proposal is acceptable in its current form.

As a result, reps have agreed to carry out an urgent series of meetings around the country to hear your views.

Reps from the joint unions will meet again on 1 October. If the BBC does not listen to what you say, then strike dates for 5 & 6 October, which have already been served on the BBC, will stand. Two new strike dates of 19th and 20th October will also go ahead.

Update

At the last reps meeting on 1 September, reps agreed we would engage in up to 2 weeks of further talks with the BBC. In those talks with the BBC, we have insisted we do not accept they have made a sufficient case for ending the final salary pension scheme. They have consistently rejected that argument.

We have also called on them to introduce pension caps for senior executives, use more resources to meet any shortfall, delay making a decision until the triennial valuation and to consider compensating those losing out through significant pay rises, among other things.

When the BBC has put forward alternatives, we have argued that, as an absolute minimum, they should meet a number of key principles

  1. Be defined benefit – not defined contribution
  2. Protect the value of pensions already earned
  3. Maintain a link with salary and not cap pensionable pay
  4. Not significantly reduce benefits

We are deeply sceptical of the BBC's figures and therefore have also asked the BBC to put in a caveat that if come the triennial valuation the deficit is less than £1.5bn, that everything will be subject to further review.

The BBC's new proposals

That there will be three new options from 1 April 2011

  1. Stay in the existing schemes and be subject to cap of 1% on pensionable pay
  2. Leave the current schemes and join a defined contribution scheme
  3. Leave the current schemes and join the CAB 2011.

The New Option

There will be a window of 3 months for members of existing schemes to choose to join new CAB 2011 scheme.

  1. It will be a career average benefit scheme.
  2. Accrual will be 1.67% or 1/60th.
  3. The Normal Retirement Age will be 65.
  4. Pensions earned will at joint discretion of BBC and trustees rise annually in line with CPI up to maximum of 2.5%
  5. Pensions in payment will rise annually in line with CPI up to a maximum of 2.5%
  6. Employee contributions would be 7%.

Because CAB schemes are 'contracted out', you would also pay additional National Insurance contributions – around 1.5% – but would also then receive the State Second Pension. BBC contributions would be 10% (plus higher NI).

The New Option – pros and cons

Pros

The new proposal meets some of our requirements:

  1. It is defined benefit
  2. Accrual rates have been maintained at 60ths
  3. Full salary increases (including promotions) count towards pensionable pay
  4. By leaving the current schemes your pension is deferred and is the value of pensions already earned is thereby legally protected.

Cons

The new proposal reduces benefits (it affects different people differently but among the possible issues for people are):

  1. Higher contribution rates for lower benefits
  2. Use of CPI instead of RPI
  3. Normal Retirement age of 65
  4. Uses career average instead of final salary
  5. Pensions in payment rise by 2.5% instead of up to 5% or 10% in final salary new and old benefit schemes
  6. No option for AVCs/Added Years.

In order to allow time for us to hear your views, strike dates scheduled for 20 and 21 September will not go ahead.

Details of the urgent meetings are being circulated. It is vital that you attend these or tell your local rep what you think.

We do not believe that the new proposal goes far enough towards addressing the issues you have raised with us and if the BBC does not listen to what you say then the joint unions will have no option but to take action on 5 and 6 October as already outlined.

Tags: , bbc, pensions, strike, ballot, broadcasting