Strike at the BBC by BECTU, NUJ, Unite to coincide with opening of Commonwealth Games, Wednesday 23 July

16 July 2014

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BBC pay dispute graphic says 'Never Mind the Bo££ocks'

Anger at the BBC’s attitude to staff pay means a 12 hour strike on Wednesday 23 July 2014.

15 July 2014

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is to be hit by the first strike in this year’s industrial dispute with the BBC over pay, BECTU has announced today. (15 July).

The ceremony, which takes place in Glasgow on Wednesday 23 July, will be affected by action from midday to midnight by members of BECTU, the NUJ and Unite. News production for the event will be impacted, as will newsgathering and other programme production across radio and TV elsewhere across the UK.

Earlier today (Tuesday 15 July) all three recognised staff unions at the BBC posted positive results in their ballots for strike action.

BECTU’s votes

BECTU balloted members in the BBC, Studios and Post-Production Ltd and BBC Worldwide starting on 26 June. There were overwhelming votes in favour of strike action and action short of strike in all cases:

  • BBC members voted 79.4% in favour of strike action and 20.6% against;
  • BBC members voted 89.7% in favour of action short of strike and 10.3% against;
  • Studios & Post-Production Ltd members voted 76.2% in favour of strike action and 23.8% against;
  • Studios & Post-Production Ltd members voted 90% in favour of action short of strike and 10% against;
  • BBC Worldwide members voted 70.4% in favour of strike action with 29.6% against;
  • BBC Worldwide members voted 81.5% in favour of action short of strike with 18.5% against.
Participation in the BBC ballot was 42%, whilst participation in the Studios and Post-Production Ltd vote was 43.7%. Participation amongst members at BBC Worldwide was 31%.

The BBC was served this afternoon with notice of strike action on Wednesday 23 July; the notice also announced a continuous boycott of the appraisals process starting on the day of the strike, coupled with a work-to-rule.

Feelings are running high amongst the majority of trade union members at the BBC who once again face a pay cut. Just under half of all BBC staff are union members; union density amongst production and technical staff in programme production is typically 70%. The votes for strike action are a rejection of the BBC’s latest offer on the 2014/15 pay review. Currently the BBC proposes to increase pay by £650 for all staff earning up to £50K with £500 being offered to staff paid above £50K.

Prior to the ballot the BBC’s improvement to the initial offer in respect of London Weighting Allowance – increasing access to the higher band of LWA by opening this up to all staff earning less than £35K – meant that 1200 BBC staff would secure an additional increase. However even with this revision 70% of BBC staff are only being offered a below inflation increase. Inflation is currently running at 2.6% (official figure for June announced today).

BBC hypocrisy

BBC managers have been accused of hypocrisy by the unions for aligning the Corporation’s approach to staff pay with the government’s austerity measures whilst continuing since 2010 to protect the pay and perks of managers.

Earlier this year a Freedom of Information request revealed that whilst the BBC claims to have cut the number of managers it employs, instead it has swelled the numbers of staff allocated to Band 11, the highest grade below the level of manager. As a result, since March 2010, the number of people employed at Band 11 has increased by 96 from 638 to 734 (reported figure for June 2013) with the number of people paid above the salary roof for the band rising over the same period by 75 from 381 to 456.

If the majority of BBC staff were to accept the BBC’s current offer this would represent a year on year pay cut given the current level of inflation. In addition, the BBC’s offer adds to a mounting grievance. In the five years to 2013, staff pay at the BBC fell a full 10% behind the rate of inflation.

Gerry Morrissey, lead negotiator, and general secretary of BECTU explained:

“BBC rank and file staff are appalled at once again finding themselves at the back of the queue when managers sit down to review pay. Instead of playing to the political gallery, BBC senior management should have the courage to reward staff fairly for the increasing demands they face.

“Whilst the BBC’s income has been at a standstill since Mark Thompson caved in to government pressure in 2010, the BBC knows what its income is and has control over how it pays staff. Affordability is not the issue here; the issues are about fairness, justice and sound managerial judgement.”

“BBC staff know what austerity means. They have accepted pay cuts for the past five years and are working harder and harder every year as staff numbers fall. Whilst BBC staff cherish the organisation they work for and have every respect for the licence fee payer, they have the same challenges as everyone else. They have to make ends meet and are entitled to expect that the value of their pay will be at least maintained.”

The unions have not ruled out more strike action if the BBC fails to address members’ demands.


For more information contact BECTU’s general secretary, Gerry Morrissey on 07850 317866 or Sharon Elliott, communications officer on or 07770 971427.

For more details on the progress of this year’s talks visit this page:

Query about this article? Contact us.


From NUJ:


NUJ strikes at BBC on opening day of Commonwealth Games

15 July 2014

NUJ members voted to take strike action next Wednesday 23 July – coinciding with the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – in their fight for a decent pay rise.

NUJ reps from across the BBC met to discuss the result of the ballot for industrial action over pay and appraisals which has been running over the past 3 weeks. Members voted overwhelmingly for strike action – with 77.2 per cent of members voting for industrial action including strike action and 89.5 per cent voting yes for action short of strike.

The strike action will take place from 11.59am to 11.59pm on Wednesday 23 July, and will affect all parts of the BBC. The action will be held jointly with members of Bectu and Unite. A work to rule will start from midnight Thursday 24 July, coupled with an appraisals boycott.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The decisive turnout and result clearly demonstrates that journalists across the BBC are not prepared to put up with paltry pay deals any longer, while those running the corporation continue to enjoy their lavish salary and perks at the same time as dishing out lectures about the need for staff to ‘get austerity’.

“When it comes to executive perks, lavish salaries for managers and jobs for their mates, the BBC executive is the board that likes to say yes. When it comes to paying journalists and programme makers that deliver the content that makes the BBC the envy of the world, the BBC has tried to peddle the line that a below inflation deal is the only way of keeping their political and corporate enemies at bay in the forthcoming licence fee settlement. It does not wash. The NUJ believes there needs to be radical reform at the BBC, with executive pay capped at £150,000 – that would free up the money to ensure fair pay for all staff.

“BBC managers have embarked on a major public relations exercise during the course of this ballot with one intention – to demonstrate that the NUJ is out of touch with its membership and that the disenchantment with the management of the corporation is only skin deep. Today’s result demonstrates how badly out of touch they are.

“NUJ members want the BBC executive to robustly campaign for a decent licence fee settlement that will secure the future of the public service broadcaster and allow it to thrive. Death by a thousand cuts – with many more hundreds of damaging job losses set to be announced this week – is no future at all for the BBC.

“Members are clear that they are prepared to take sustained action in this dispute and will name further dates if the dispute is not resolved. It’s time for the BBC to revaluate its position and to resolve this dispute by negotiating a sensible and fair pay rise for staff who work so hard, for modest salaries, because of their genuine commitment to public service broadcasting.”



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