Union members at BBC to vote over strike action

Unions are to run strike ballots over pay, pensions, and job cuts among members at the BBC.

The decision, made by a joint meeting of the Bectu, NUJ, and Musicians’ unions, came after the BBC turned down demands for an improved pay offer and refused to drop a plan for cuts in pension rights.

Union officials said staff are angered by the level of salaries of top managers when most workers were being offered pay rises of 2.6%. Last week, the BBC’s annual report revealed bumper pay increases for top executives.

Pension discussions came to an end on 7 July, with the management unmoved by union arguments that it should shelve a plan to raise retirement age, staff contributions to pensions, and close its final-salary pension scheme to new staff.

Threats of compulsory redundancy, affecting staff in many areas, will also be included in the list of industrial issues in the ballot of members.

Ballot papers are expected to be issued on 20 July, with a closing date of 3 August. The unions have not ruled out further discussions with management while ballot preparations are underway.

If industrial action occurs, most likely in August, it will be the second bout of strike action since Mark Thompson took control two years ago with a tough cost-cutting agenda.

Thompson’s vision for the BBC has already seen more than 2,500 staff outsourced, and more than 1,000 made redundant – mostly through voluntary means – with another 2,000 due to follow in the next two years.

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