BBC members of the National Union of Journalists have voted to ballot for industrial action following a "completely unacceptable" 1 per cent pay rise offer.
A meeting of BBC union representatives voted for a motion calling for “major reform” at the corporation to address the differences in pay conditions between journalists and programme makers and the senior management.
Noting the salaries of director general Tony Hall, managing director Anne Bulford (both £450,000 a year) and director of strategy and digital James Purnell (£295,000), the meeting heard that managers also receive car allowances and “generous” expense accounts.
According to the NUJ, members said they felt “betrayed” by Hall and said there seemed to be no hope of a “decent” pay rise in years to come.
It noted that the pay offer of 1 per cent, tied to a minimum of £390, means those earning £50,000 will get no pay rise.
The NUJ said the motion “addressed concern that while staff are being expected to ‘get austerity’, management continued to enjoy high salaries and is bringing in jobs for its friends at enhanced rates by bypassing the BBC's normal recruitment procedures”.
The motion, which was passed unanimously, said:
This MFoC [Mothers and Fathers of Champel] group condemns the BBC pay offer of 1 per cent, tied to a minimum of just £390, for those staff earning under £50,000 and endorses the general secretary’s rejection of the offer.
"It condemns the director general’s view that it is vital that the overall pay increase is maintained at just 1 per cent in order to demonstrate that the BBC “gets austerity” and notes that Tony Hall and Anne Bulford both earn £450,000 a year and James Purnell earns £295,000.
“Unless there is a meaningful increase in the pay offer, with a settlement significantly more than RPI, this group chapel agrees to move towards an industrial action ballot and commits to campaigning robustly for a strong Yes vote.
"This MFoC group supports the campaign called for by the general secretary for broad-based reform at the BBC, that addresses the enormous gap that has evolved between senior managers running the BBC and the journalists and programme makers producing the content, and involves a radical overhaul of executive pay and perks. It condemns the behind the scenes and dishonest re-homing of senior managers into grade 11, where as a result 66 per cent of those in this bracket now earn salaries above the ceiling of the grade. It notes that the NUJ demand for a cap on salaries of £150,000 would release £20million into the BBC’s budget, each and every year.
"This MFoC group further condemns the new onslaught of job losses, in News, Radio and potentially in Scotland, the legacy of Mark Thompson’s reign as director general and the consequential programme of cuts under DQF, cuts that have been squarely targeted at frontline journalism, a decision that the current executive team seem committed to following through.
"This group further calls for an immediate recruitment freeze across the BBC and an end to external recruitment and the growing trend for jobs for friends. It reaffirms our commitment to redeployment of BBC staff and our longstanding policy that we do not accept any compulsory redundancies of NUJ members. It also gives full backing to all chapels engaged in negotiations over proposals to cut jobs and pledges support for any that call for industrial action should there be an unsatisfactory outcome to negotiations."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
The union has argued for a genuine alternative to the excessive payments to managers and the waste in the corporation. There are structural changes that can be made that would result in fair pay and free up cash for programming. Our calculations show that if pay was capped at £150,000, this would free £20 million which could be spent on journalism and programming. This would be to the benefit of the staff and licence payers. We also want to see the BBC management in the run up to the licence fee deal and charter renewal fighting on behalf of the corporation and battling to maintain the high standards and quality programme-making that has made the BBC one of the premier broadcasters on the globe."