A ballot for industrial action at SIS Outside Broadcasts gets underway next week (7 August) following management's insistence that there is no scope for an improvement on their pay offer.
Former BBC staff, now employed by SIS OBs - part of SIS LIve - and other staff groups represented by BECTU, have been offered a £400 increase for 2012-13 (pro-rated for part-time staff).
The offer, tabled on 18 June, is conditional on the implementation of revised contracts which BECTU refused to ballot on in March this year.
Consultations on the offer concluded with a strong vote by members last week which rejected management's position by a majority of 95%.
Call for formal ballot
More importantly, 85% of members called for a ballot for industrial action.
Formal notice of the union's intention to ballot was served on 27 July. Distribution of ballot papers will start on Tuesday 7 August with a closing date of Tuesday 4 September.
In May, BECTU tabled a claim seeking a minimum increase of 2.8% for all staff; the union also proposed higher increases for lower paid staff not only to address pay inequality but also to address the company's accepted issues with staff retention. BECTU proposed that staff earning less than £20K should receive a 10% uplift, with staff earning less than £25K to receive a 7.5% increase.
In October 2011, the staff affected accepted a pay cut which management acknowledge was "an important contributor to the process of transforming the business".
SIS OBs is now on course to report an improvement of £2m in the business' contribution to the SIS group, but management argues, bearing in mind costs and overheads, that the operation is "not yet at a level which guarantees a sustainable business".
Commenting on the dispute:
Gerry Carr, national official said:
"We don't accept that SIS OBs is not in a position to reward staff fairly for their commitment to the business during testing times. SIS Live made an award of 2.5% to its staff and the cost of living for the period October 2011 - March 2012 was 2.8%."
"SIS OBs has the advantage of skilled staff; the business can only benefit if the company recognises its responsibility to deliver a decent reward. We are urging all members to vote in the ballot which gets underway on 7 August and to vote yes to action."
Sean Kelly, SIS branch secretary, said:
"SIS OBs' finances have improved by £2m as a result of an agreed pay cut last year - which was only applied to ex-BBC staff, in spite of an agreement that it would apply to all staff - and the closure of the final salary pension scheme.
"This year the company has rewarded the very staff who didn't take a cut, whilst the ex-BBC staff are being threatened with the imposition of drastically worse terms and conditions in return for a small pay rise. The impressive turnout and astonishing result in the consultative ballot shows that our members are prepared to fight for the better deal they deserve."
Amended 30 July, 15.30 to reflect change in closing date of ballot to 4 September 2012.