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23/02/2001

NUJ DEMAND CLARIFICATION ON BBC PAYMENTS

THE NUJ are demanding that the BBC come clean on their plans to scrap the automatic payments system for nearly all the freelances who provide a lot of their broadcast material.
The union have received calls from worried managers who fear the Corporation could lose much of their talent if the ‘self-billing’ system is abolished. Top management are seeking to impose the change under a plan called ‘The Solution’, co-ordinated by a ‘Solution Leader’.
In BBC jargon, freelances would be ‘migrated’ to a system that required them to invoice for all of their work. NUJ members are concerned that this could mean that contributors would have to bill for each use of their work which is a difficult task when items are re-used without the contributors knowledge.
National Broadcasting Organiser of the NUJ, Paul McLaughlin, said: “If they ‘migrate’ the freelances they will only succeed in driving away from the organisation the very talent they seek to retain.”
The union understands that the system will not be imposed on everyone. An elite corps of highly paid presenters and entertainers on freelance contracts will still be paid automatically. There are as few as 25 freelances on the ‘miss list’ in news and current affairs.
McLaughlin said: “If such a two-tier system was imposed this would alienate the vast majority of freelances. The NUJ are calling on all freelance members to contact us for further advice.”
A work-to-rule over cuts in expenses payments is set to begin at the BBC on February 26.
Letters were sent directly to members after a postal ballot produced an 85 per cent majority in favour of embarking a work-to-rule. (CD)
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