Thousands of BBC staff, including members of the NUJ, are to be balloted from today on whether to strike over a 1 per cent pay offer that could disrupt coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The NUJ, Bectu and Unite unions are recommending their members vote for strike action over pay, a new appraisal system and compulsory redundancies it claims are caused by ‘the management’s failure to fulfil an agreement on redeployment”.
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NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘This is not just about a derisory pay deal of 1 per cent imposed on our members without proper consultation.
‘It is about the BBC going back on a deal made last autumn on a redeployment scheme which has left members needlessly facing compulsory redundancy, when there are jobs elsewhere in the corporation.
‘It is also about an unfair appraisal scheme under which all members of staff would be marked. Again this is being imposed without consultation.”
Stanistreet insisted the action was being taken ‘not out of self-interest, but because we love the BBC”, adding: ‘Most people who work for the BBC are not paid well.”
The NUJ claimed the median salary at the corporation was £30,000 and a starting salary was in the region of £17,000.
Stanistreet added: ‘We are also sticking up for the BBC in our campaign to call for an urgent reinvestigation into the handling of the licence fee deal and the huge influence the Murdochs and senior News International figures had on this government behind the scenes.
‘Emasculating the BBC and pushing through the BSkyB deal at any cost was a shared agenda by those at the heart of News International and at the heart of this government. Jeremy Hunt should resign and BBC management should be joining forces with the NUJ and calling for an urgent renegotiation of the licence fee deal conducted properly and transparently.”
The unions’ pay claim, submitted in January, was for an increase of inflation plus 2 per cent, which the BBC said was equivalent to a pay rise of 5.9 per cent.
In reponse to today’s ballot a spokesperson for the BBC said: ‘We are disappointed that Unions are encouraging their members to vote for strike action in circumstances where we have been clear that we are unable to offer the 5.9 per cent pay rise they are asking for. The pay increase of 1% is what we can afford.
“The economic climate remains tough for everyone and any strike action will only damage our relationship with audiences.’
The ballot closes on 21 May.
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