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04/07/2005

Union recommends 3.5% BBC pay offer

BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus are advising BBC members to accept this year's pay offer in postal ballots.
The offer, due to be paid from August 1, was made by management on June 30, after the unions rejected an earlier proposal for a 3.2% rise.
Members are now being balloted on a revised offer of 3.5% which will be paid to staff in the BBC itself, and BBC Broadcast, a subsidiary which could be sold off this summer.
The offer includes a minimum increase of £550, and management have also agreed to extend the 1998 ACAS agreement on extended notice of redundancy until 2008.
Pay talks started later than usual at the BBC this year due to a dispute, and industrial action, over plans for job cuts and privatisation at the Corporation. A union ballot on concessions offered at ACAS in May is due to close on July 4.
At a meeting on June 23 the BBC was presented with a claim from the staff unions for an increase 2% above the current rate of inflation, with a minimum increase of £1,000 to assist members on low pay.
Unusually, there were no accompanying claims for improvements in conditions of service, intentionally excluded by the unions to allow the BBC to channel any available cash into basic pay.
Despite a 4.5% increase in the BBC's licence fee this year, the Corporation's main source of income, management argued that pay restraint was needed, not least because of a need to raise £155 million by the end of 2006 to clear the BBC's overdraft.
Management were also wary about the claim for a substantial minimum increase, arguing that the £1,000 figure claimed by unions would distort differentials at the bottom of the BBC grading structure.
Unions argued that, in a year when there had already been industrial protests at job cuts, staff should be given an significant increase to boost morale.
Pay settlements in BBC Worldwide and BBC Resources earlier in the year had both been based on increases of 3.5%, said the unions.
The BBC refused to reveal whether senior executives had received generous bonuses once more, claiming that the information was confidential until publication of the BBC's Annual Report, expected in mid-July.
However, detailed cost figures for a number of controversial projects were given in response to union questions, and it emerged that the Ashridge training programme for managers had already cost £11.5 million. Unions compared this unfavourably to the £43.8 million that management said would be added to the BBC's wage bill by the opening offer of 3.2%.
BECTU's ballot on pay will close on July 11, meaning a much shorter voting period than in previous years, but early enough closing date to ensure that the increase is paid in August if accepted by members.
(GB/CD)
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