BBC staff will vote on a significantly revised proposal on pay and conditions after almost two years of negotiations between unions and management.
The new proposal includes a three-year deal on pay backdated from August last year and running until the end of July 2020.
A pay award of 2 per cent in 2017/18, 2 per cent in 2018/19, and 2.5 per cent (or the licence fee settlement if higher) in 2019/20 has been agreed after negotiations between the BBC and unions the NUJ, BECTU and Unite.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet welcomed the new package, as the union said it contained “significant improvements”.
She said: “The greatest asset our public service broadcaster has is its staff – the team of journalists and programme makers that make up the NUJ’s membership at the BBC are passionate about their work and it was vital for the NUJ to ensure any new set of terms and conditions, and any new approach to pay, is fit for purpose.
“For the past 21 months the unions have worked hard to identify areas of change needed at the BBC, and to improve the wide-ranging proposal to revamp terms and conditions.
“This final strait of negotiations with the BBC made significant headway and successfully addressed a number of important issues that required progress and agreement. NUJ reps welcomed this, and it’ll now be for our members to consider and vote on.”
The BBC and the unions identified “complexities and inconsistencies” in the current pay structure and, after a “forensic examination” of existing roles and how they are paid compared to market rates, propose a new grading structure, BECTU said.
The union reported that the BBC had recognised some roles were being paid below the market rate and that it ideally wants its staff to be at the median of the market.
For the first two years of the deal, all staff who are low in their pay range will receive incremental increases of 1.5 per cent.
After two years, the BBC and the unions will start new negotiations on how a ringfenced pool of funding can be used to progress salaries.
The BBC has also committed to raising its minimum salary from £15,687 to £20,000, BECTU said.
The proposal also offers “significant” improvements to terms and conditions for staff covering London weighting, pay progression, parental leave, sick pay, contracts of employment and new approaches to weekend pay and night working.
Arbitration talks brokered by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service took place this week, when the final session rolled on for 22 hours straight.
The unions agreed to recommend the revised deal to members and a ballot on whether staff accept the proposal will open on 21 May and close on 8 June.
BECTU national secretary Sarah Ward said: “The BBC’s finances are exceptionally precarious because between now and 2020 it will be taking over the financing of the over 75’s free TV licences and this will lead to a loss of 20 per cent of the BBC licence fee income, which the unions do not support.
“This pay offer secures our members’ future pay award at a time when the BBC financing situation is very delicate.”
Head of BECTU Gerry Morrissey added: “This new deal, which is still subject to a ballot of the members, demonstrates how important it is that unions and management work collaboratively with employers.
“The BBC recognised that its staff terms and conditions needed updating and the unions were able to negotiate what we know about staff experiences from members.
“This deal is a comprehensive examination of the terms and conditions and ensures that the BBC is best placed to retain and develop the workforce to keep it competitive in an increasingly fragmented market, while ensuring staff have decent terms and conditions.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re pleased the unions are recommending the proposals which are an essential part of modernising the BBC, ensuring fairness and equality across the organisation and benefitting staff and audiences through the services we provide. We await the outcome of the union ballots.”
Just two weeks ago NUJ reps at the BBC spoke of the “anger and frustration” at the broadcaster over the negotiations, which lasted longer than expected.
Pierre Vicary, chair of the Broadcasting Industrial Council, told the NUJ delegate meeting it was almost “crunch time” over the terms and conditions negotiations and warned that if the deal was not satisfactory “national strikes could be on their way”.
Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall