BBC Siemens contractors handed new pay offer

Siemens has tabled a pay offer to its IT service contractors working at the BBC, after meeting with media union Bectu about an angry dispute over pay freezes.

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Siemens has tabled a pay offer to its IT service contractors working at the BBC, after meeting with media union Bectu about an angry dispute over pay freezes.

Those affected in the union will now vote on the offer, which was approved by Bectu officials. The ballot results will be announced in two and half weeks' time.

The Siemens contractors work on a £2 billion outsourcing agreement, signed by the BBC five years ago after the sale of its own technology wing. Siemens provides all IT, technology and transmission services to the broadcaster.

"We had a meeting with management on the 24 March in a bid to avoid industrial action. They tabled a pay offer which we have recommended to our members," said Helen Ryan, supervisory official for the BBC division at Bectu. The meeting averted a strike that would have taken place at the end of the month.

Siemens has offered staff a £300 consolidated pay increase backdated to the 1 January 2010. The only condition is that the union agrees to enter into further discussions with the company until 31 July to talk about performance-related pay.

"In the event of those [discussions] reaching a conclusion that we can recommend, and that our members accept, then a further £80 consolidated increase backdated to 1 January will be payable," Ryan added.

If the offer is rejected by Bectu members, Ryan said, "we will be taking strike action". The majority of members had voted for a one-day strike before Siemens agreed to meet with the union on Wednesday.

Although the tabled offer is less than what the union had asked for, Ryan said that she was "pleased" that the company had offered something, "without any strings attached".

A Siemens spokesperson said: "We are pleased that BECTU is recommending our revised pay offer for approval to their members."

In the four months to January, 70 Siemens contractors working at the BBC were made redundant.

Three years ago, around 3,400 IT and business processing staff employed by Siemens secured four percent pay rises after threatening industrial action.

Siemens' work at the BBC has also been heavily criticised in the past. In 2007, the BBC set up a technology partnership board to monitor the outsourcer, following a report by MPs that revealed 60 percent of the key technology projects in the deal's first year suffered delays or went over budget.

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