Mark Thompson’s email

It’s clear that his aim is to defeat the NUJ. He’s leaving himself no room for maneuvre at all. I’ve picked out some quotes below, and added some thoughts.

“The proposals we agreed with the unions some weeks ago were and will remain the BBC’s final offer…” This says nothing more than has been clear for some time: a better offer will only come when the strikes cause enough pain that they force the BBC back to the negotiating table.

“The BBC couldn’t change its current position without breaking faith with the other trade unions and we just will not do that no matter how many strikes there are…” This is disingenuous: I’m sure the other unions would be happy to accept a “breach of faith” that meant a better offer for their members. Trying to dress up his intransigence as a show of loyalty to the non striking unions is really a bit silly.

“Some have argued that it would have been better if the whole question of pension reform had waited until after the formal valuation of the pension deficit had taken place.  But the whole point of introducing the reforms now was so that the reforms could themselves be taken account of in the valuation process.  As a result of the reforms, the deficit will be significantly lower than it otherwise would have been and the BBC’s payments to eliminate that deficit will also be lower.  Had we waited, the impact on services and jobs across the BBC would have been much worse.” Well, this has always been a bogus argument to try and dress up the BBC’s unilateral breach of the rules of the pension fund. What he is basically saying is that if the BBC waits for the formal valuation it will find itself subject to the law – and the law will mandate that it has to protect our benefits. Mark says we can’t wait for the official valuation. Today we find that at least one member of the Executive Board – Helen Boaden – disagrees with his view on this.

It’s beginning to look like the strikes are a make or break event for the DG. Given his uncompromising position, concessions would mean a humiliating U turn. Even a return to negotiations might leave him no option but to resign. And if he does resign, there is a “reconciliation” candidate for DG waiting in the wings.

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