NUJ condemns BBC's 'completely unacceptable' 1 per cent pay rise offer

The National Union of Journalists has condemned the BBC after staff earning less than £50,000 a year were offered a "completely unacceptable" 1 per cent pay rise.

According to the NUJ, Hall said the offer was a part of his work in renewing the Royal Charter and negotiating the next licence fee settlement. He said it was vital the BBC shows it “gets austerity”.

“I appreciate, I really appreciate, the different ways people have fallen behind Retail Prices Index (RPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI),” he said.

“I also recognise the very hard work your members continue to do. In terms of positioning for what will be a very rapid Charter and licence fee negotiation, I have to keep pressing the austerity and efficiency button.”

Following the offer, which ties the BBC to offer at least a £390 pay rise, the NUJ said it will now hold a series of chapel meetings throughout the corporation to consult on the offer.

In a press release, it highlighted the fact that Hall himself earns £450,000 and said it will be organising a public campaign “for fair pay and fundamental reform” at the BBC.

According to the BBC, the offer is line with the rest of the public sector and reflects the fact that the licence fee has been frozen until 2016. A spokesman also pointed out that the £390 minimum increase means that anyone earning less than £39,000 will receive more than 1 per cent.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

This offer demonstrates the gaping disconnect that exists between those at the top of the BBC and the journalists and programme makers that create the content that licence fee payers value.

“The annual rise on offer amounts to less than the director general earns before he’s clocked up a couple of hours at his desk each morning. James Purnell pockets  £390 by the time his late morning latte beckons. These are not individuals who ‘get’ how badly the lives of NUJ members are being impacted by the erosion of their salaries after years of below-inflation deals.

“The BBC leadership seem to believe that a fair pay deal for BBC staff will have Whitehall mandarins, the right wing press and the British public up in arms. It’s not a cost of living increase that outrages onlookers – it’s the executive excess, the shocking examples of waste and botched decisions, and ridiculously high levels of pay for those at the top of a corporation we all fund.

“This is a critical moment for the BBC’s future. It is time to forge a BBC for the 21st century. That requires a radical overhaul of executive pay and the fleshy managerial structures at the BBC.

“As things stand, BBC journalists and programme makers are expected to sit back and let their pay and conditions be eroded and endlessly chipped away at, at the same time as seeing jobs slashed and workloads increase – just so that those at the top can continue to enjoy lavish salaries and perks that should have no place in the public sector.

“It’s not ordinary staff at the BBC who need to ‘get austerity’ – they’ve been living it for years now. It’s the people running the BBC who need to get real and wake up to the fact that the BBC’s current structure is not sustainable and the recent scandals at the BBC have given ordinary licence fee payers an insight that has shocked them.

“A new pay structure that rewards managers fairly would save millions of pounds on the pay bill each year – it would mean that fair pay could be maintained at all levels of the BBC, and it would end the gulf that currently exists between staff and the so-called officer class. That’s the kind of boldness we demand from the BBC now and it’s a campaign that we know will have real resonance with the British public.” 

A BBC spokesman said: 

We have offered a 1 per cent pay increase for our more junior staff.  This is in line with the public sector.  We realise it is below inflation, but the reality of the licence fee settlement means that we don't have the money to offer more.  Staff earning over £50k, including senior managers, are not eligible for the increase.”

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