Siemens IT contractors at BBC in strike ballot

IT contractors working for the BBC are to vote on a 24-hour strike in a dispute about pay.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu) has begun balloting more than 200 Siemens IT contractors who work on BBC accounts.

The ballot will run until 19 March and follows a BBC proposal by the BBC to implement a pay freeze for the contract staff.

Bectu has called for a pay deal equalling the Retail Price Index – which currently stands at 3.7% – plus 2% to be given to the contractors.

The BBC has already cut 70 contract jobs between September 2009 and January 2010, and the broadcaster is now proposing a pay freeze for remaining contractors, the union said.

Bectu national officer Suresh Chawla told Personnel Today: “We are now balloting with a positive recommendation to accept industrial action. They have had an opportunity to come back round the table with us, but that still hasn’t happened.

“It’s not as if the pay freeze is safeguarding jobs – it is scant consolidation. Not only is there no guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, there’s further restructuring happening concurrently with this pay freeze.”

Chawla added that if the ballot returned a vote in favour of strike action it could lead to significant disruption of BBC broadcasting, as the Siemens contractors provide transmission and IT support for the corporation.

Siemens has provided technology, transmission and IT services to the BBC since the sale of BBC Technology in 2005.

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