BBC faces 5% pay claim

BECTU, NUJ, and Amicus have presented a pay claim for 2004 including a demand for a 5% increase.

The claim takes account of the increase of 4.3% in the BBC Licence fee from April this year, and also calls for a number of improvements for staff working nights and anti-social hours.

In detail the claim calls for:

  • A 5% increase in pay and London Weighting, with a minimum cash increase of 800
  • Improvements staff working nights:
    • A significant improvement in the rate paid from 0000 to 0600
    • Hourly payments through to 0900 for staff starting before 0600
    • A full calendar day of recovery after finishing a single night or run of nights
    • Taxi transport home for staff whose hours include 0000-0600, regardless of finish time
    • The right of staff 55 years or older to decline night duties
  • Re-instatement of premium payments for weekends and bank holidays
  • A 50% increase in scale rates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, away from base
  • Paid time off for medical appointments
  • Permanent extension of the 1998 ACAS agreement giving either 5 or 6 months notice to staff facing redundancy
  • Full maternity pay to women from their first day of service.

Staff working for the BBC, and BBC Broadcast Ltd are covered by the claim - those in other subsidiaries, including Technology Ltd, Resources Ltd, and Worldwide Ltd, are subject to separate pay bargaining.

This year's claim was tabled by unions after the BBC announced that its target for the introduction of a new pay and reward system, originally August 2004, had been extended by a year because insufficient progress had been made in discussions.

Management have not yet responded to the claim, but unions expect formal negotiations to open in the next few weeks.

Letter from BECTU to BBC management

6 February 2004

Ms Gillian Alford
Head of Employee Relations & Policy
BBC Broadcasting House
Portland Place
LONDON W1A 1AA

Dear Gillian

BBC Pay & Conditions Claim 2004

I am writing on behalf of the Joint Unions to outline our pay and conditions claim for 2004.

There are a number of issues which we believe need to be addressed as part of this year's claim, and because the previous settlement was for two years this has resulted in a longer list than usual.

The Joint Unions are seeking an agreement on pay that will run from August 1st 2004 until July 31st 2005. In light of the fact that the BBC is to receive an increase in the licence fee of 4.3% from April 1st 2004 we believe that this year it is appropriate to seek a real increase in salary for all of our members, and so we are claiming 5%, with a minimum increase of 800.00. This figure would be applied to all salary related payments including, UPA rates, overtime and WOODs payments, Christmas and Bank holiday payments and the floors and roofs of the salary bands. It would also be applied to the two levels of London Weighting.

We have considered the problems associated with night working and believe that the proposal outlined below starts to address some of those issues. Firstly, we believe that the rates of pay are too low, and also that there is no good reason for the difference between the two rates. To begin to remedy this we would propose a substantial increase in night pay rates for the hours worked between 0000-0400. To achieve this we are prepared to accept that for this year the higher rate would be frozen at today's rate of 14.29. Secondly, in our view the BBC does not take account of the difficulties experienced by staff who have to work from early in the morning or through the night. We believe that the stresses and strains of working in the early hours does not stop at 0600, and so we would also propose that anyone who was at work by 0600 should be paid the new lower hourly rate for hours worked between 0600-0900.

We believe that in some parts of the Corporation staff are expected to return to duty after a night shift, on the same day that they finished that shift. In order to give people a sensible break during which to recover from night working we would propose that there should be a minimum of one calendar day (midnight to midnight) of undisturbed rest to follow at the end of any night duty, or series of night duties. This would be a Corporate condition of service and could not be used to worsen any existing agreed working patterns. We would also seek to give the right to choose to opt-out of night working on reaching the age of 55 to all BBC workers. Finally, given the dangers of driving when exhausted, we would further propose that anyone whose turn of duty has included the hours of 0000-0600 should be offered a taxi home at the end of their duty. If they did not make use of a taxi, car mileage could not be claimed instead.

In the course of last year, the Joint Unions met with the BBC to discuss changes resulting from new legislation relating to maternity pay. During those discussions the BBC refused to consider making any improvements above and beyond the statutory provision, on the grounds that such changes would have to be considered as part of a pay claim. We would claim, therefore, that BBC maternity benefits should be available to all women from their first day of employment, thereby removing the 12 month qualifying period.

The issue of expenses has been raised several times in the past year, and because the capped rates payable for meals have not changed in more than ten years we believe that they should be increased by 50% to 7.50, 9.00 and 15.00. Given that claims against these amounts have to be supported by receipts showing money spent, it does not seem unreasonable to seek such an increase. Further, our members find it increasingly difficult to find food at the sums offered and that, too, often means that they are subsidising the Corporation out of their own pocket. We are not seeking any change to the capped rate for overnight accommodation as this is almost always booked by the BBC on behalf of the member of staff.

We have also given some thought to the issue of anti-social working, and noting the fact that the BBC has only agreed to listen to any representations that the Joint Unions wish to make, we believe that this year the BBC should consider the re-introduction of payments for working on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank holidays. This is an issue that causes our members much concern, because if all days are treated equally in terms of pay then it devalues the idea of family friendly policies, and makes it much harder to achieve a proper work-life balance.

We would also like the BBC to agree to the proposition that staff with a medical or dental appointment should be treated consistently across the Corporation, and allowed to take paid time for the appointment. We believe the appropriate way to achieve this would be by amending Agreed Statement K3A Sickness Absence, and would be happy to discuss a form of words outside of the pay talks, provided the BBC accepts the principle.

We would also claim that the ACAS agreement which provides a five month period for those selected for redundancy should be made permanent.

I look forward to an early meeting so that we can develop the arguments in support of our claim more fully.

Yours sincerely
Luke Crawley
Supervisory Official

20 February 2004