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29/10/2010

Pensions Dispute Sparks Fresh BBC Strikes

BBC journalists are set to strike in a dispute over the corporation's pension scheme.
Seventy per cent of the National Union of Journalists members rejected the BBC's latest pension proposals and members are now set to strike for 48 hours on November 5 and 6 and November 15 and 16, with further dates to be announced.
The NUJ also warned that there could be a further walkout at Christmas.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: "This massive vote against the BBC's latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental 'pay more - work longer - get less' nature of the offer. NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a 'pensions robbery'. That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions."
"Under their proposals, people will be much poorer in retirement and the value of their pensions will be threatened every year by inflation. Staff are angry at continued management excess, believe they have been sold down the river in recent negotiations with the government and refuse to pay with their jobs and their pensions."
NUJ members will also refuse to take on additional duties or volunteer for acting up duties as part of an indefinite work to rule.
However, members of the broadcast union BECTU, have voted to accept the BBC's offer. The union said that members "have accepted that the BBC's offer is the best that can be achieved through negotiation".
The dispute was sparked over the BBC's plans to cap future increases in pensionable pay by 1% each year from next April, in order to reduce a £1.5 billion deficit.
However, the new offer sees the amount that employees would have to pay into the scheme being reduced from 7% to 6%. Employees would then receive a career-average benefit pension, which would be revalued by up to 4% each year, instead of the previous offer of 2.5%. Pension payments will also now automatically rise each year in line with inflation, also by up to 4%, instead of 2.5%.
However, BECTU warned that the dispute could resurface next year if the pension deficit turns out to be less than £1.5 billion.
Gerry Morrissey, BECTU General Secretary, said: "I believe that the outcome of these talks, given the climate which the BBC and other public bodies face today, represents a decent settlement for BBC staff and is one that would not have been achieved without the enduring support of our members and their local representatives.
"However, there is no hiding the fact that event with the improvements we have negotiated, members will in future have less favourable terms than exist currently."
Members of Unite, Equity and the Musicians' Union, whose members are also affected, have also voted to accept the BBC's offer.
(KMcA)
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