Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

BBC journalists to stage strikes

BBC journalists are to stage two strikes in a long-running row over pensions
BBC journalists are to stage two strikes in a long-running row over pensions

BBC journalists are to stage two 48-hour strikes in the coming weeks in a long-running row over pensions.

The National Union of Journalists said its members will walk out on November 5 and 6 and again on November 15 and 16, with further strike dates to be announced in the coming days, including the threat of a Christmas stoppage.

The move followed a 70% rejection of the BBC's "final" offer on pensions, which the union described as making journalists "pay more, work longer and receive lower pensions".

NUJ general-secretary Jeremy Dear said: "This massive vote against the BBC's latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental pay more, work longer, get less nature of the offer.

"NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a pensions robbery. That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions."

The NUJ said its 4,000 members at the BBC will also refuse to take on additional duties or volunteer for acting-up duties as part of an indefinite work to rule.

The dispute flared after the BBC announced plans to cap pensionable pay at 1% from next April and revalue pensions at a lower level, which unions said effectively devalued pensions already earned.

BBC management said the changes were needed to try to tackle a huge pension deficit of more than £1.5 billion. BBC director-general Mark Thompson said in a message to staff that the adjustments to the proposals should be taken as the corporation's "final position".

"They still deliver the overwhelming majority of the financial effect we knew we needed to achieve in dealing with the deficit and containing future pension costs and risks, so that we could continue to offer affordable pensions.

"But I believe that they are also reasonable and equitable from the point of view of staff. They are offered, and should be considered, as a package. We cannot and will not make any adjustments to them which would involve further cost or any loss of future affordability," he said.

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