An overwhelming 90% of BBC journos and technicians have voted to strike in a bitter dispute over planned changes to pension provision, regarded as one of the best in the U.K.
BBC management says the pension fund is running a £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) to $3 billion deficit.
Execs want to cap the final salary pension benefits for existing staff from April and close the scheme to new employees. Under these plans, pension benefits would be limited to salary growth of 1% a year, regardless of any pay hike received.
Unions announced Wednesday that they have given management two weeks to come up with concessions.
Generous pensions have traditionally been regarded by BBC employees as compensation for salaries generally lower than those paid by commercial broadcasters.
Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of technicians union Bectu, said: “This is a significant mandate for strikes, which demonstrates how out of touch BBC executives are with their staff. We hope they will now come up with more realistic proposals, otherwise we will have no alternative but to call industrial action.”
In an email to BBC staff, director-general Mark Thompson said: “As I said in August, our room for manoeuvre is limited. We are facing a large pension deficit and must act now to reduce it.”
BBC employees are especially irritated due to what many consider to be the high pay packages given to Thompson and the executive board.