There has been a series of reports in today's papers relating to this year's pay rise. As you will have seen, the joint unions have stated that they are not happy with the increase and have announced that they will ballot their members on strike action as a result and that could affect coverage of the Diamond Jubilee.
I want to clear up some erroneous elements of these stories as I think they have portrayed BBC employees in an unfair light. Before doing so however let me provide a bit of background.
Earlier this year, we announced a pay increase of 1% for staff in 2012. We did this based on what we could afford. We're conscious that our people have had below inflation pay rises or, in some cases, a complete pay freeze for the last three years. And during this period, like many others outside the BBC, they have seen their pay fall in real terms. We are also currently in the process of trying to deliver savings of Â£700m a year by 2016/17 as part of the Delivering Quality First efficiencies programme. Given these challenges we made a tough judgement on the amount by which we could afford to raise pay.
Feedback from our staff on the pay rise has been mixed. Some staff are not happy with the offer but others tell us that whilst they would obviously have preferred to have had a pay rise that matched the rise in the cost of living they understand our financial position.
We know that we're not alone in this situation. Many licence fee payers have seen their own pay frozen. In the public sector for example there is a two year Government cap on public pay of 1%. Local Government workers are due to enter their third consecutive year of pay freezes. Against this backdrop the joint union's demands of a pay rise for staff amounting to nearly 6% looks unrealistic.
And this is the point. In some of today's press BBC staff were described as 'militant', 'unpatriotic' and 'greedy'. The suggestion is that they are threatening to 'wreck the Queen's Jubilee celebrations' in order to get more money. This is not the case. No decision has yet been taken on whether or not there will be a strike and we remain hopeful that staff will vote against such a course of action.
We have made clear to the unions that even if they do take industrial action it won't change what we can afford. What it could do however is damage our relationship with licence fee payers and that is the last thing we want.
Everyone I speak to at the BBC is excited at the prospect of working on some of the biggest events this country has ever seen. They are proud that they will be bringing the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and Euro 2012 to audiences of millions around the country and I don't believe anyone at the BBC wants to see this coverage jeopardised.