Strike ballot looms at BBC as expenses dispute escalates
11 April 2016
BBC staff are discussing taking industrial action as a new expenses deal will leave many of them out of pocket.
The rates for meal and other allowances have not been updated for 15 years. The hardest hit will be operational and production staff and anyone working long shifts. For example one evening meal allowance has been cut from £16 to £10.
Staff say the cut to expenses will mean they will be subsidising the BBC from their own wages. The BBC proposed caps are less than the HMRC rates. While journalists and technical staff face cuts to their expenses, the story is very different for management staff who receive a car allowance even if they do not have a car.
The unions are also furious with the BBC for the lack of consultation over the new rates. Management promised it would enter into discussions on late night and early morning taxi rates six months ago, but is still not in a position to say what it proposes. The dispute also involves union members in Bectu and Unite.
The only figures the BBC has provided the unions with is for meal allowances which it says will result in a saving of £300,000. The union say savings could be made by changes to other expenses such as:
- senior management private medical insurance, £701,000 (2015).
- senior management car allowances, £344,139 (2015).
- working lunches (now withdrawn and savings unknown).
- hospitality and business entertainment (being reviewed, but savings unknown).
Sue Harris, NUJ national broadcasting officer, said:
"Why should our members pick up the tab? These are legitimate expenses which staff incur as they do their jobs often during unsocial hours. Meanwhile, the management continues to receive perks such as car allowances even if they don't have a car. The talks to discuss the changes of rates have been a farce and our patience has run out. Our members are angry and if the management insists on foisting this unfair deal, we will be a balloting for strike action."
Helen Ryan, BECTU supervisory official, said:
"Staff are very angry at the proposals and despite the unions raising objections to the changes, the BBC is simply not listening and is intent on ploughing ahead. Unless the BBC sees sense and listens to the staff and their trade unions we have no alternative but to ballot for industrial action."