Workers at the BBC are mobilising against the corporation’s planned changes to its pensions scheme. This will mean thousands of staff working longer, paying more and receiving reduced benefits.
The current final salary pension scheme will be replaced by an inferior scheme for new starters from September. The normal retirement age will be increased to 65 in 2016. Existing staff will have to increase their contributions from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent by 1 April 2007.
There is a surplus in the present pensions scheme of £13 million. BBC director general Mark Thompson has admitted to union reps that there is “no pensions crisis”.
The BBC has saved more than £1 billion by paying reduced contributions since 1992. Becky Branford, the joint chair of the BBC NUJ union branch, told Socialist Worker, “This is a three pronged attack. Management wants us to pay more and work longer for less pensions.
“We discussed the forthcoming attacks on pensions at a chapel (union branch) meeting before the official announcement was made.
“We didn’t have to persuade anyone of the iniquity of the proposals. We are now arranging a meeting with an independent pensions expert who will explain what’s driving these attacks and will arm members with the arguments.
“There are now more detailed meetings taking place between the unions and management and inside the unions. Bectu union members are also very angry about the proposals.
“We are already in dispute over job losses. If there are no compromises on pensions I could see that it could go down the road of strike action.”