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Union members reject BBC pension plans

28 September 2010

BBC union members have voted in massive numbers to reject the corporation's latest pensions proposals and press ahead with plans for strike action. Unions have been consulting members about the latest pensions proposals at a series of meetings across the UK.

The message so far has been clear – stop the pensions robbery.

Huge votes have backed union plans for action to defend pensions at meetings in Bristol, London, Belfast, Cardiff, Newcastle, Ipswich and at BBC Monitoring and BBC World Service.

Further meetings are planned in Glasgow, Plymouth, Manchester and Birmingham among other venues, before a meeting between the joint unions and BBC management on the morning of 1st October.

There will also be a joint unions meeting of reps on 1st October where a final decision will be made on what action to take.

As part of the campaign, members are being asked to write to their local Member of Parliament (MP) to ask them to sign the BBC Pensions Early Day Motion (EDM) 750 and support the campaign.

The ballot gained a brilliant turnout with a 20 to 1 vote for action. Since the result, the unions have urged the BBC to further negotiate a fair settlement or face co-ordinated and concerted industrial action.

In the talks since the ballot, the BBC has not made an acceptable case for ending the final salary scheme. The BBC has put forward a proposal that from April 2011 members of the existing schemes can:

  • Stay in the existing schemes with a 1% cap on pensionable pay
  • Leave the current schemes and join a defined contributions scheme
  • Leave the current schemes and join a career average benefits scheme


Staff in the existing pension schemes entered into them on the expectation that pay increases would be considered when working out contributions and entitlements. BBC management is moving the goalposts. Now they are asking staff to pay more for less.

In response, the unions have announced strike action for Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 October and on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 October. The unions are seeking further negotiations whilst preparing for action.

The NUJ believes talented, hardworking staff are the BBC's best assets, wants to resolve the dispute and has asked for the introduction of a pension cap for senior executives, for management to use more resources to meet any shortfall, and to delay making a decision until the triennial valuation of the scheme.

The unions are arguing that the BBC should have a defined benefit and not defined contribution scheme and must protect the value of pensions already earned.

Management themselves are cushioned from the effects of the recession by executive pay awards and they are protected from the harsh realities of cuts by having their own separate pension slush fund.

The latest proposals for everyone else mean staff could lose thousands of pounds in retirement.

Members at the BBC are still prepared to fight to protect their pensions and the BBC still has an opportunity to avoid strike action.

Tags: , BBC, pensions, strike, broadcasting