BBC Lay Reps blog

Archive for July, 2007

Half Yearly Lay Reps report: Mark Scrimshaw, January – June 2007


Jan-04 News
May-22 Pay talks
Jan-26 Financial
May-23 Unionside
Feb-13 Unionside
pre-meet + NJC
Jun-11 Pay talks
Mar-07 Quarterly Jun-15 Salford meeting & visit
Apr-24 Pay 2007
Leeds: Hull:
Mar-08 Cluster
Feb-15 Cluster
Apr-18 Cluster
Apr-19 Cluster
Nottingham: Newcastle:
Feb-20 Cluster
Feb-21 Branch
    Mar-06 Local
    Apr-16 TV
    Apr-20 Cluster

Production SDC

Jan-10   May-21  
Belfast: Norwich:
Jan-11 AGM Jan-23 uPOD
discussions continue
May-15 Controller’s
Jun-08 Cluster
Jan 16 -
March 13 – June 5
Jan 17 -
March 14 – June 6
Feb-08 Stage
Managers’ dispute
Mar-20 Value for
Money talks
Apr-04 Cluster
May-24 Pacific
Quay dispute
Jan-31 Salary
& Grading Appeals
Jan-12 Learning
& Skills Forum
Mar-22 English
Regions DLM
Jan-20 Regional
Jun-14 English
Regions DLM
Apr-14 AGM


Feb-23 Skillset
re Salford move
Apr-25 Bristol SON&R English Regions
Strategy & Tech Day
Feb-26 Grace
Wyndham Goldie Trust
Training Course @ Swindon on Employment Law
National & Divisional Conferences
Conference Lisbon, on Europe & Digital Broadcasting Future


Six months dominated by several big national issues, and several divisional ones with possible pan-BBC ramifications:

PAY – after last year’s below-inflation offer, and our grudging acceptance in the light of the License Fee negotiations and subsequent political sensitivities, there was great determination this year that despite BBC pleas of poverty after the settlement members should get a substantially better deal than last year.

After some frustrating meetings with a new Head of Employee Relations, we eventually reached what we believed was a significantly decent deal, and members agreed by voting 93% to accept. I think that the reasonableness of our arguments, and our clear determination not to be lulled into “BBC think” that an organisation with a £3.3 BILLION annual income is poor (!) resulted in a good offer.

And our powder can be kept dry for future use!

JOBS – whatever else happens, we can be sure that Thompson’s announcement later this year on the review of BBC services
post-settlement, will mean job cuts.

After Value for Money there is huge doubt that there is much more room for voluntarism, and huge concerns that even there were, the
resulting increased demands on staff still working would be unacceptable.

Almost everything else we do is aimed at putting the unions into as strong a position as possible to face these threats when they come –
both to fight to protect as many as jobs as we can, fight for the best deals possible for members (including much greater BBC efforts to find ways of redeploying staff) and if necessary muster our industrial strength across the Corporation.

PENSIONS – again we await a valuation, but this time with much less anxiety than before. It’s becoming clear that BBC paranoia and over-reaction came from the last valuation, and resulted in their ill-considered and unwise demands for huge increases in staff contributions. So far we have resisted such increases in both the 2006/7 and 2007/8 pay rounds, and would aim to do so again next year.

Regarding the new Career Average Scheme, we continue to fight on two fronts – opposing the concept and at all times arguing for its end, and for all BBC staff to be allowed into the Final Salary Scheme; and while it is here, fighting for the best terms and conditions within it.


Apart from the big ones above, there are several other areas of concern we will continue to raise at NJC level :

• Recoverable expenditure – BBC’s policy of insisting on receipts for all meals continue to cause problems in all areas, but especially for staff working abroad where the policy of a daily allowance for whichever country you were working in, was discontinued summarily by the BBC. We will continue to fight for the introduction of a more equitable and sensible policy.

• The frustrating policy of allowing staff to work for long periods “acting up” and not confirmed in post is being challenged across the BBC, and given that it could have repercussions for people in any future redundancy round, we will continue to do so.

• Issues pertaining to the new online way of recording sick leave are being discussed, with particular reference to issues around managers’ access to private information.

• Concerns across all areas about the new ways of HR working on cases continue to be monitored and referred.

• The summary introduction of Pay + Promotion Guidelines to managers has been strongly criticised at NJC – although we would welcome some guidelines in an area which has hitherto been down to individual managerial whim, these ones are not good


The NJC had its first official visit to Salford, saw the site where the BBC will have its building, visited the Pie Factory where Sumners currently run their independent studio operation, and discussed many elements of the move with senior BBC management. The meeting was largely positive, with the BBC seemingly open to our suggestions for increased liaison on the move, the impact on staff of distinguishing between rumour and fact, and how best to disseminate information once decisions were made.

The BBC anticipates 1500 jobs being created there – of those affected by the move, they see 45% staff relocating, 45% taking redundancy and 10% being redeployed – leaving 5% (around 800 people) to be recruited.

They stress these are “current best estimates”, and of those 800 see 475 from journalism/technical/production staff. 180 senior editorial
30 senior management, 125 administration.
Their plans evolve year by year – thusly !! (don’t blame me, they’re their terms!)












set up


plan + partner









BBC committed itself to earlier involvement with us on all issues but especially on those to which we could bring experience of previous moves like Mailbox and Pacific Quay, and our members’ technical and production knowledge.

We particularly stressed the importance we gave to high level training, and the BBC outlined the schemes it was working on:

• Production Apprenticeship Scheme to be run by Skillset with LimeTv, ITV and BECTU involved
• Work with all 26 universities across the North to find out what each can offer other – courses like those for journalism at Burnley College, and the media production courses at Salford and Sunderland Universities highlighted
• Talking to BBC Training Development about a Salford-based course On the key issue of Relocation, we stressed that the BBC must come up with the definitive relocation package as soon as possible so that people can start making decisions, and looking at the things (homes, schools etc) that will help them make those decisions.

We also stressed that staff will need clarity that if they choose to move there will be a job for them, and we’d want a commitment that jobs won’t be redesigned to make them unsuitable for current staff looking to move. We also asked for discussions about the new studio operations to be built – who’d run them, staff them, post-production jobs – no substance yet but naturally one to keenly watch.


I have posted my report as Chair of this year’s conference, but would just like to take this opportunity to thank all those members and reps who came, making it a very well attended event; all those who took part in the vigorous but always comradely debates; all those members of the Divisional Committee who delivered area reports to Conference – an innovation I would like to continue and extend
next year; and finally all those members of staff who’ve served us so well over the year as well as at Bournemouth.


• In the East, the trial of the uPod lightweight satellite vehicle continues – on the whole successfully, with good BECTU members doing most of the trial operation and reporting back regularly and effectively;
• As a consequence we reached a very good agreement about the operation of all such vehicles (uPod, COFDM and their successors) which English Regions management have almost immediately asked to re-negotiate, claiming it is “too restrictive” for them!
• We have not agreed that the standing agreement falls, but have agreed that myself and Alan Ross, Head of ER Technology, spend a day with the uPod in Cambridge and hammer out a final agreement. Needless to say, our bottom line is still the health and safety of our operators, especially when being asked to operate alone in live situations, when they are at their most vulnerable.
• The restructuring of the management teams in most regional newsrooms is complete, with a few outstanding issues in some being dealt with largely at local level, and one region (Hull) yet to appoint their Grade 11 post (although encouragingly they were the only one to board their Production Editor for the role).
• The many and varied issues surrounding BBC vehicles – speeding and parking tickets, their payment and any appeal against; log book vehicle checklists and responsibilities for checks; safety and operational problems surrounding new vehicles like Vito vans – are at various stages of being settled. The appeals issue is still being checked by the BBC.
• The “XDA” palm pilot rollout has started across regional radio newsrooms now that the problems with their Siemens server has been sorted.
• “Slice’n’Dice” – pilot rolled out across all regions, with a new grade 8 pan-BBC co-ordinator half funded by BBC Learning to help; this system of putting the best of local radio onto online has resulted in training issues which are being solved, although the implementation (without prior agreement with unions) of a new initiative called “Golden Moments” increased tensions in web areas.
• Broadcast Engineers – all but 1 person (on long-term sick leave) have now been assessed, and everyone who was on a Grade 6 has been upgraded to a 7.
• One Show – will begin full time run in autumn, but with no Regional input, and no adverse impact on regional 6.30 programmes.
• However, a successful trial of a new 1-minute 8pm bulletin on BBC-1 may result in a long-term commitment, although still unsure what the mixture of national/regional news/weather will be; this bulletin is very specifically aimed at the CDE1 audience watching at 8 who do not watch other BBC news output.
• English Regions tabled proposals for new positions to bolster performance in Sports Online, Regional Weather, and News Online – all posts won by bidding for new money. Still under discussion but clearly we welcome investment in new jobs.


I continue to sit on several external organisations, sometimes officially representing BECTU, but always with my union hat not too far away and clearly visible to all :
Northern TUC (and their Learning & Skills Committee)
Northern Film + Media main Board, Remuneration Panel and Funding Panel (the Regional Screen Agency)
Culture North East Executive (the Regional Cultural Consortium)
• BECTU has requested that I be our representative on the BBC’s Salford People Development Group which will look at issues of training and development


Chair BBC Divisional Committee

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: Lay Reps report

Half Yearly Report: Jane Perry, January to June 2007

On my patch:

DEC – Children’s

6 BECTU and NUJ Members in the Children’s Education Unit have been issued with compulsory redundancy notices despite the fact that the trawl for volunteers across Children’s was over subscribed. As a result Children’s Education Unit went on strike on July 10th. The BBC is risking the loss of 6 extremely experienced and talented staff – award winners included. BECTU is continuing the battle against the extraordinarily regressive and unimaginative attitude these actions represent within Children’s management.

F&L Acting Up

Management have started boards for those acting up for appointment to substantive posts. The boarding process, after some members have been acting up for years, is, unsurprisingly, causing an increase in personal case work in this area. BECTU are in talks with management about how to prevent the same acting up chaos occurring again.


BECTU are still in negotiation with the aim of preventing any compulsory redundancies.


Two items in dispute at present:

The first issue is the taking of 10 hours for an 11.5 hour shift within Broadcast Press Cuttings. I&A’s intention is to apply normal BBC policy to take 11.5 hours for an 11.5 hour shift. BECTU’s suggested compromise was to take 40 hours for a 4 consecutive shifts between a Saturday – Friday period with all other shifts to be taken as 11.5 or 8 for a day shift. BECTU is waiting to see whether or not this dispute is to go to national conference.

The second is due to management wanting to give some of their staff the opportunity to train by taking on more responsibilities. Of course BECTU members’ worry is that this is just acting up by any other name and without any extra pay. Management were supposed to send BECTU documentation on the proposals before the subsequent LLM. When the documentation never materialized and the relevant management didn’t turn up to the next LLM BECTU put the matter into dispute.

BBC Elstree

After the workload for script editors and the problems of late scripts for all those working on the programme having been a standing item on LLM agendas for nearly 2 years management have decided upon a restructure of the script process on the programme. So far members have welcomed the changes which, in theory, bring in a more streamlined script process with script editors only expected to work on one week’s block of scripts at any one time. Everyone is hoping that this time the process will work.

BBC Rep’s guide

I completed The BBC Reps Guide ready for a final edit by Helen Ryan the BBC Division new Supervisory Official. The guide should be published in the near future for all trained reps to use to update the knowledge and as an aid to memoir in BBC Procedure.

Nursery Campaign

This campaign has not achieved the desired result: the maintenance all of the BBC’s remaining nurseries. Over 3000 members of BECTU and the NUJ signed the online petitions which were presented to Director General Mark Thompson by BBC staff that use the nurseries accompanied by their children. Unfortunately, whilst accepting the petition itself, Mark Thompson appears to have taken no notice of it whatsoever.

The decision to close the nurseries was made last November without any consultation with the members of staff that use them or staff that would have liked to have used them. However, via the campaign itself, BECTU at least showed its membership that it cares about all the issues involved with their working lives even those issues that are not strictly at the hard, pay and redundancy end, of industrial relations.

I was proud to be a part of the campaign and grateful for all the support I received both from members, with and without children themselves and from BECTU officials and staff at Head Office. I was particularly grateful to those who, from experience, thought the
campaign had little chance of success but nevertheless put themselves out to help.


I have been recruiting in Birmingham, I&A, BBC Cardiff and Elstree – including raising freelancers’ awareness of the advantages of collective bargaining and so signing BECTU’s Freelance Petition.

Recruiting Activists

Due to a lack of time this has not been a successful time for recruiting activists – must try harder… further cuts / industrial action at the BBC allowing! I do have some potential activists who need following up.


Below is a list of the formal meetings attended:

Date Activity Location
07/01/07 NEC BECTU
Head Office
09/01/07 Nursery campaign meeting Elstree
09/01/07 Lobby for licence fee Parliament
15/01/07 DMNC BECTU Head office
16/01/07 N&R SDC BECTU Head office
17/01/07 BBC Division BECTU Head office
18/01/07 BBC Disabled Staff Forum Broadcasting House
22/01/07 Stress at Work Course BECTU Head office
26/01/07 Freelance Petition Day Elstree
03/02/07 GEC BECTU Head office
05/02/07 Nursery
Campaign Visit
Richford Street
12/02/07 Nursery Campaign Visit Woodlands
15/02/07 DSF BC
16/02/07 Nursery
Campaign Visit
18/02/07 NEC BECTU Head Office
19/02/07 Recruiting Birmingham Birmingham
20/02/07 Nursery Campaign Elstree
21/02/07 Nursery Campaign Woodlands
22/02/07 BBC
Childrens VFM / Desktop Editing
Centre / BBC Television Centre
27/02/07 Nursery
Campaign and Cardiff Branch Committee meeting
BBC Cardiff
1/03/07 Elstree
BBC Elstree
1/03/07 Nursery Petition BBC Elstree
05/03/07 Nursery Petition BBC Elstree
08/03/07 DSF event on comedy anddisability BBC
White City
13/03/07 N&R BECTU Head Office
14/03/07 BBC Division BECTU Head Office
15/03/07 Stress Course BECTU Head Office
16/03/07 Q&A Mark Thompson BBC Media Centre
20/03/07 Freelance Campaign andrecruiting. BBC Bristol
21/03/07 Handed In Petition withcampaigners
to Mark Thompson
Broadcasting House
22/03/07 English Regions DLM Mailbox Birmingham
23/03/07 Vision DLM VFM BBC Television Centre
28/03/07 I&A Pervale Broadcast Centre
31/03/07 EDC BECTU Head Office
01/04/07 NEC BECTU Head Office
05/04/07 Move On
Up for disabledworker:
working party
11/04/07 I&A LLM Broadcast Centre W12
13/04/07 Committee
Meeting recruitment
16/04.07 BBC
Disability AwarenessCourse
focus group
BBC Marylebone High Street
19/04/07 BBC Disabled Staff Forum Broadcast
Centre W12
25/04/07 Technology Day Bristol Bristol
27/04/07 Pre-conference NEC Bournemouth
28/04/07 BECTU Conference Bournemouth
29/04/07 BBC Divisional Conference Bournemouth
09/05/07 I&A LLM Broadcast Centre
12/05/07 TUDA AGM All Saints Road
13/05/07 NEC BECTU Head Office
14/05/07 JAM
White City London W12
18/05/07 Recruiting I&A Windmill Road
21/05/07 Production
BECTU Head Office
22/05/07 Elstree and BorehamwoodCouncil Filming eveningmeeting Council Offices Elstree with Martin Spence AGS
23/05/07 TUC Disability Conference TUC Congress House London
24/05/07 TUC Disability Conference TUC Congress House London
31/05/07 Elstree LLM BBC Elstree
06/06/07 BBC Division BECTU Head office
07/06/07 Recruiting I&A BBC Television Centre
13/06/07 Recruiting I&A BBC Broadcast Centre
15/06/07 JAM White City
18/06/07 I&A Dispute Procedure Broadcast Centre
18/06/07 Move On Up TUC
19/06/07 Diversity Board Director General Office
20/06/07 I&A LLM BBC Broadcast Centre
20/06/07 Diversity NJC BBC Media Centre
21/06/07 BBC DSF BBC Broadcast Centre
24/06/07 NEC BECTU Head Office
28/06/07 Recruiting Cardiff
29/06/07 Recruiting Cardiff
03/07/07 NJC BBC Media Centre London W12
04/07/07 Members Meeting BBC JAM BBC
White City
05/07/07 BBC South BBC Southampton
07/07/07 F&GP BECTU Head Office
10/07/07 Strike
BBC Television Centre
11/07/07 I&A LLM BBC Broadcast Centre W12

Members’ cases

1 not renewal of contract – different job / contract offered with no break in service

1 Disability discrimination – had to past to another lay rep as I became a material witness!

7 Maternity or Flexible working cases – 5 withdrew, 1 reached a compromise, 1 ongoing

1 performance review – ongoing 1 disciplinary – thrown out

5 acting up cases – all potentially ongoing depending on boards / other contract offers

1 Bullying and Harassment / Disability Discrimination – ongoing

2 Ill health – both compromise agreements

1 early retirement.

1 Pay/Grading – ongoing

4 redundancy appeals – ongoing

Plans For Next Six Months

I would really like to do more recruiting both in terms of activists and members – BBC management action this autumn permitting!

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: Lay Reps report

Half Yearly Lay Reps Report: Dan Cooke, January to June 2007

The first six months of the year have been dominated in my areas of responsibility by changes proposed to the Arabic Radio service with the launch of an Arabic TV service. A number of meetings have taken place, at which both BECTU and the NUJ were represented.

Many hours have been spent discussing the fine detail of rota patterns, start and end times of the night shifts and so on. Virtually all the staff affected are NUJ members.To date the whole process verges on a failure to agree.

Value for Money: I am dealing with two potential redundancies under this heading. These are on the brink of receiving warning notice of Final Notice.

As noted in my last report, acting up and attachments were a big issue during VfM, particularly in Factual.

The BBC has now started a process of boarding those who have been acting or attached, with a view to appointing them substantively to the acting/ attached posts.

In English regions “Trials” and “Pilots” continue to burst forth in quantities.

Sadly, despite all their rhetoric, management still failed to advise us of all these in advance. There have therefore been some urgent discussions on several occasions to try and control the issues.

After an initial burst of posting to the Lay Reps Blog, I have to admit that I have fallen behind with this in recent weeks. I intend to rectify this shortly.

I have a variety of Personal Cases on the go. Having returned from leave in early June, there seemed to be a flurry of members in trouble, so the number of live cases has risen to about 33.

The general business of attending Local Liaison Meetings where possible has continued. Industrial Relations remain strained in BBC South West. Having been improving, recent actions by a Managing Editor have inflamed tempers and raised the temperature again. Work is in hand to try and encourage the HRLP to manage his managers more successfully!

In Audio & Music in the early part of the year, the “AP Dispute” continued in 6 Music. After several very grumpy and tense meetings with local management, their “deal” for converting Researchers and BAs to Assistant Producers was roundly rejected by members. The management took the offer off the table with veiled warnings that they’d be back sometime in the future.

Finally, with Dave Langton’s departure to Cardiff, the reins of Branch Chair were picked up by Ben Honeybone. Can I wish him good luck and success.

My thanks to Dave for a well run ship over many years!


Below is a list of the formal meetings attended with Management in my areas of responsibility:

Date Meeting Details
10/01/2007 Production SDC BECTU Business
17/01/2007 BECTU- BBC Divn BECTU Committee
14/03/2007 BECTU- BBC Divn BECTU Committee
06/06/2007 BECTU- BBC Divn BECTU Committee
16/01/2007 N&R SDC BECTU Committee
13/03/2007 N&R SDC BECTU Committee
05/06/2007 N&R SDC BECTU Committee
21/05/2007 Production SDC BECTU Committee
13/02/2007 Bush Branch Committee Meeting Branch meeting
17/04/2007 Bush Branch Committee Meeting Branch meeting
20/02/2007 AN Programme Changes Consultation meeting
16/02/2007 Audio & Music LLM: Childrens Factual Consultation meeting
21/02/2007 R3 International Meeting Consultation meeting
01/02/2007 World Service Tech Review DLM Consultation meeting
18/06/2007 World Service Tech Review DLM Consultation meeting
10/05/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
24/05/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
31/05/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
07/06/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
14/06/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
21/06/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
28/06/2007 World Service: Arabic Service DLM Consultation meeting
11/05/2007 World Service: South Asia
Hub (PHOF) Mtg
Consultation meeting
22/01/2007 A&M: 6 Music AP DLM Dispute Avoidance
30/03/2007 A&M: 6 Music GLM: Reconvened Dispute Avoidance
19/03/2007 Audio & Music: 6 Music; AP issues Dispute Avoidance
31/01/2007 ER Salary Appeals Member support
19/04/2007 World service: Meet Members about PHOF Member support
01/05/2007 Recruiting at Monitoring Recruitment activity
21/03/2007 Recruiting in Bristol Recruitment activity
19/02/2007 Recruitment day, Birmingham Recruitment activity
23/04/2007 BBC London Union Meeting Regular Business
02/05/2007 BBC South East: Tunbridge Wells LLM Regular Business
05/03/2007 BBC South West LLM, Plymouth Regular Business
09/05/2007 BBC South West LLM, Plymouth Regular Business
20/06/2007 BBC West Mids Cluster Liaison Meeting Regular Business
12/02/2007 BBC West Union Liaison Meeting, Bristol Regular Business
22/03/2007 ER Quarterly Liaison Meeting Regular Business
14/06/2007 ER Quarterly Liaison Meeting Regular Business
22/02/2007 World Service DLM Regular Business
18/06/2007 World Service DLM Regular Business
04/04/2007 World Service Informal DLM Regular Business
11/01/2007 World Service: “Dynarod” agenda setting
for DLM
Regular Business
03/05/2007 World Service: “Dynarod” agenda setting
for DLM
Regular Business

Personal Cases

Ordered by Division:

Date Division Case Meeting Outcome
27/06/2007 A&M/ Worldwide TUPE/ Grade issue Member support at meeting Ongoing
06/03/2007 BBC Learning Redundancy advice Member meeting  
06/03/2007 BBC Learning Redundancy meeting Member support Resolved
12/06/2007 BBC People/ Training Grievance Pre-meet  
12/06/2007 BBC People/ Training Grievance Grievance meeting Lost
15/01/2007 Monitoring Salary/ Grade Grievance Pre-meet  
02/03/2007 Monitoring Return from Attachment Member support  
03/04/2007 Natural history unit Bullying & Harassment Pre-meet  
28/02/2007 New Media Bullying & Harassment Grievance follow up meeting Unresolved
13/06/2007 New Media Bullying & Harassment 2nd Grievance follow up meeting Resolved
10/05/2007 News Graphics Redundancy advise Member meeting  
05/02/2007 Sport Grievance Pre-meet  
16/03/2007 Sport Grievance Grievance meeting Awaited
12/01/2007 Vision: Factual Redundancy Appeal Pre-meet  
15/01/2007 Vision: Factual Redundancy Appeal Appeal Lost
13/06/2007 Vision: Factual Redundancy Appeal Pre-meet  
15/06/2007 Vision: Factual Redundancy Appeal Final Appeal Awaited
19/06/2007 Vision: Factual Grievance Pre-meet  
22/06/2007 Vision: Factual Grievance Pre-meet  
22/06/2007 Vision: Factual Grievance Grievance meeting Awaited


Finally, as a Member Elected Trustee of the BBC Pension Fund, I attended a number of meetings. These are included for completeness:

Start Subject
19/01/2007 Pension Board Meeting, White City
15/02/2007 Investment Committee Meeting, Broadcasting House
23/02/2007 Investment Manager Visit, London
23/02/2007 Investment Manager Visit, London
26/02/2007 Pension Board Meeting, White City
12/03/2007 Formal Review of Investment Consultant
20/03/2007 Pensions: General Purposes Committee, White City
05/04/2007 Pensions AVC review sub committee, Cardiff
26/04/2007 Pension Board Meeting, White City
21/05/2007 Investment Manager Visit, London
21/05/2007 Investment Manager Visit, London
21/05/2007 Investment Manager Visit, London
11/06/2007 Pension Board Meeting, White City

Updated July 17th

Posted by Dan Cooke

Filed under: Lay Reps report

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