Mark Thompson on Industrial Action by NUJ
The National Union of Journalists has called a 48 hour strike of BBC journalists for Friday and Saturday. Much of the output of the BBC is unaffected by this action. However, it is inevitable that some programmes and content will be disrupted. I would like to apologise wholeheartedly for this and assure you that we are doing everything we can to bring you as much as possible of our usual programming.
We will provide regular updates on-air and at www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice of programmes that are affected.
I would like to explain how we reached this position. The strike is about changes to our pension scheme, changes which have been accepted by the majority of unions. These changes were necessary to deal with a pension deficit which, like many other schemes, is due to the performance of financial markets and the fact that people are living longer.
We first put forward initial proposals to change the BBC Pension Scheme in June. (You can read more on the reasons why changes are needed in a blog by Zarin Patel, Chief Financial Officer). Since then, we have consulted and listened to staff, and brought in changes to our proposals as a result.
We have made clear this is our final offer and that we can make no more changes without imposing an unacceptable burden on Licence Fee payers.
Four out of the five unions have accepted our revised offer, and this is also reflected in feedback from staff. The NUJ alone, which represents 17% of staff, have voted to reject the offer and go on strike. We do not know how many NUJ members voted to reject the agreement in the consultative ballot but it was almost certainly a minority of the total NUJ membership - and certainly a very small percentage of the BBC workforce as a whole.
It has never been more important to ensure the BBC is spending every penny of Licence Fee payers money wisely and delivering the quality programmes and services audiences want. We believe the current pension proposals are realistic and affordable, and will provide fair pension provision for BBC staff for the future.
This has been a difficult period for staff. However, the people who lose out most in any strike action are the very people we are here to serve - our audiences. Again, I apologise for the disruption. We will do everything in our power to bring you as much as possible of our usual programming and services.
Mark Thompson is BBC Director-General
The BBC Press Office website will be publishing regular service announcements and statements about the NUJ industrial action.