Journalists to ballot on BBC pensions strike

Members of the National Union of Journalists, Unite and Bectu working at the BBC will be balloted on industrial action after the corporation refused to withdraw its proposals for pension reform.

In a meeting this morning, representatives from the three unions failed to convince BBC managers to withdraw their plans for wholesale pension reform.

The NUJ, Bectu and Unite will now prepare for a vote in the coming weeks while officials continue to meet BBC managers and attempt to thrash out a settlement.

Today’s meeting followed an ultimatum put to the BBC earlier this week by the three unions that unless it dropped its proposal by 21 July thousands of staff would be balloted for possible action.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “We’re obviously disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the BBC is taking such a hard line over this issue.

“Without question, the Government is paying extremely close attention to the development of this dispute, given their plans for wholesale pension reform across the public sector.

“The NUJ will do everything possible to defend the hard-earned pension rights of BBC staff.”

The BBC released details last month of its planned pensions overhaul to tackle a £2bn deficit in the fund. Proposals include closing the final-salary scheme to new joiners and capping contributions of existing members.

Staff have also been angered by a below-inflation flat rate pay increase of £475 for staff paid up to £37,726 a year.

Sue Harris, NUJ broadcasting organiser, said: “BBC management have shown complete contempt for staff in the face of the clear message from staff attending the series of consultative meetings that have taken place over the past two weeks.

“Those meetings have seen repeated votes – unanimous in almost all cases – calling on the staff unions to ballot for industrial action should the BBC continue to pursue its plans for a blatant pension robbery.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We continue to believe that the proposals we are making will deliver a pension scheme that is sustainable, affordable and flexible for BBC staff and the licence fee payer.

“We know that staff have concerns about the proposed changes but we will continue to listen and try to address these during the 90-day consultation period.”

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