The battle to defend pensions at the BBC is at a crucial stage.
Bectu, NUJ and Unite union members at the BBC were considering a new offer from bossses as Socialist Worker went to press.
Ballot papers were set to be sent to members on Friday of this week. The ballot will be open for two weeks.
On this timetable the second set of strike dates, originally declared by the unions for the 19 and 20 October, will no longer go ahead.
Unions intend to activate the ballot with some form of action before the end of October.
BBC bosses want to slash workers’ pensions but make them contribute more.
They originally offered a £5 million pool for older workers who will be hit hard by the cuts.
But bosses now say that age discrimination legislation prevents them from doing this.
Pete Murray, president of the NUJ, told Socialist Worker, “We now want them to use that fund to boost the pensions for everyone from CPI to RPI method of calculating inflation—which is fairer and more accurate. The BBC are saying it’s CPI or nothing.
“But if that goes ahead, people will lose tens of thousands of pounds from their pensions. If they withdraw it, we’ll fire the starting pistol for action.”
Under the bosses’ new offer the final salary scheme will still be closed to new members, and many other of the original attacks remain in place.
The workers can win much more through strikes.
Across the country, chapel (union branch) meetings have given a clear indication that workers will not accept the offer and are keen to go on strike.
In Belfast the overwhelming mood was against the deal. In Glasgow and several offices in London it has been the same. More chapels are yet to meet.
It is vital that activists inside the unions push for a no vote on the deal.
NUJ activists will be leafleting against the deal this week—this has to be an effort across Britain. It was a mistake to put such a poor deal out to the membership.
The meetings so far show that BBC workers don’t think the offer is worth the paper it is written on and the ballot is wasting valuable time.
Workers have already given the go ahead for action—they voted 90 percent in favour of strikes and action short of a strike—and the response to the deal shows that they want to fight for more.
Further hesitation could end up weakening this fighting spirit—which could damage the outcome of the dispute.
When the ballot for action started, the unions said they would strike unless the gun was taken away from their heads and the threat of pension attacks taken off the table.
But the threats are still there. Unity between the three unions at the BBC a national level can deliver hard-hitting strikes to push back management’s attacks—and inspire workers all over Britain to do the same.