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BBC staff to vote on pay strikes

Thousands of BBC staff are to be balloted for strikes over pay, with unions warning of disruption to coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations if action goes ahead.

Members of unions representing journalists, technicians and other employees will vote in the coming weeks, with the result due on May 21.

The unions would have to give seven days' notice of any action, but they would have time to call strikes over the June weekend of events.

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the broadcasting union Bectu, said the ballot decision followed the imposition of a 1% pay rise.

"Warning of action over the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend is extremely regrettable, but this offer is derisory.

"By going over the unions' heads and increasing our members' salaries before negotiations are concluded, the BBC is very helpfully placing a down-payment in our members pockets to help them through any forthcoming Jubilee strike.

"This is an act of poor faith. It adds injury to the insulting pay offer. The BBC had actually asked us to consult members and had scheduled a meeting on pay with us for next week.

"We had informed them that a direct offer of 1% would be seen as a hostile act by the joint unions. We now have no option but to call a strike ballot at the earliest opportunity."

A BBC spokesman said: "This year we have decided to implement the pay increase early as a small way of recognising the hard work that is going on across the BBC in implementing the savings we need to make and meeting the challenges we face in 2012.

"We are very disappointed that the unions have decided to ballot their members about taking industrial action. The economic climate remains tough for everyone and this action will not change our circumstances."

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