New developments

An interesting day. The unions have announced a “work to rule” on October 22nd, which under employment law is the minimum action they can take to keep the strike mandate alive. Without some kind of action the strike mandate would have expired within a few days. It means the all out strikes which had been scheduled for the 19th and 20th October have been cancelled. Meanwhile the unions are now balloting over the BBC’s revised offer. It’s good to see the NUJ’s Jeremy Dear sounding a more defiant note, predicting that the ballot will reject the new proposals.

Also today came further news that shows why we are right to be so angry about the pension proposals. Mark Byford’s departure – smothered in love by Mark Thompson – highlights the “Two BBC’s” that Mark T has unfortunately presided over. Estimates suggest that Mark B will leave with a redundancy payoff around a million pounds (32 years of service so that’s 32 times his monthly salary of just over £40K), plus a pension that could be close to a quarter of a million pounds a year. (Calculated on the basis that he joined the pension scheme at the start of his career, so he has a pension of just over half his salary.) Lucky Mark B won’t be affected by the brutal pension cuts, leaving the rest of us to continue paying into the scheme to help fund his pension, whilst we make do with drastically reduced pensions.

Just let me be clear what I’m opposed to hear: I support our redundancy scheme, and the final salary pension scheme. Mark B’s extraordinary leaving package comes about because he – like most of the senior BBC leaders – arranged over the last few years to pay themselves vastly over inflated salaries (“because we’re worth it”). Only belatedly have they accepted that this was a catastrophic mistake, opening up the BBC to continual attack from its enemies. So partly in order to claw back some brownie points with the government and a hostile press, Mark Thompson has launched his assault on our pensions. We’re the fall guys for a failed leadership strategy, whilst the architects of that strategy walk into the sunset, along a road paved with gold.

PS No wonder we haven’t heard much from Mark B about the new pensions proposals. He would hardly be a powerful voice in support of Mark Thompson’s strategy when he is about to skip away with a huge pension under the existing arrangements.

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