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BECTU members balloting on new expenses rules in the BBC have been advised of their contractual rights.
Letters were sent out to all BECTU members in the BBC outlining individual rights that can be exercised after February 1, when the new expenses regime is due to be imposed without agreement.
Until February 22, when the Union can call for legal industrial action among members affected by the change, staff cannot be instructed to breach their contracts. However, Union lawyers have identified several forms of non-cooperation that staff can engage in without causing contractual problems.
As soon as the ballot closes on February 14, the Union are likely to issue firmer instructions calling on members to resist a new expenses regime, which will leave many of them out of pocket.
The new system is due to be imposed without agreement on February 1, after last-minute efforts by the BBC to improve the proposals. Despite concessions being tabled at a meeting with Unions in early January, the BBC’s final draft still proposed cuts in entitlement for almost all staff that claim reimbursement of expenses. Payment for meals, overnights and travel are all adversely affected and the Union’s advice on non-co-operation is intended to help individuals to minimise their financial loss.
BECTU stated that in ‘normal circumstances’ the Union would have completed an industrial action to commence as soon as management imposed the change. However, the BBC’s initial reluctance to discuss the new arrangements with unions, coupled with the eleventh hour concessions, forced BECTU to start the ballot late.
The ballot involves all members in the BBC except those in Worldwide Limited and BBC Orchestras, who are not affected by the expenses changes. (CMcL)
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