BBC staffers set to strike over pension reform

Journos, technicians plan two-day stoppage in October

The BBC remains on course for strike action on Oct. 5 and 6 after technicians and journalists rejected a revised pension reform offer on Monday.

“The BBC’s continued insistence that staff pay more for significantly worse benefits is unacceptable,” said Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists. “If the BBC fails to listen to the continued anger of staff at these unacceptable changes we will be left with no choice but to strike to stop the pensions robbery.”

The BBC must reform the pension scheme to plug a deficit of up to £2 billion ($3 billion).

On Monday BBC director-general Mark Thompson warned staff, “Pension reform at the BBC is inevitable. We … face longterm pressures which, without action now, would undermine the scheme and compromise the broader finances of the BBC.”

The key concession offered by Thompson involves a better deal for existing BBC pension scheme members.

Under the new plan, pensions will be based on average pay over a career and will, therefore, reflect future pay rises.

The original proposal was for pensionable pay to rise by a maximum of 1% a year, regardless of changes in earnings.

But staff will have to work to the official male U.K. retirement age of 65 rather than 60 before receiving benefits. They will also have to put a greater proportion of their salary into the pension fund.