Entertainment & Arts

BBC staff return after 48-hour walkout over pensions

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Media captionThe BBC and NUJ's responses to the industrial action

Members of the National Union of Journalists at the BBC have returned to work after a 48-hour strike over proposed changes to staff pensions.

The National Union of Journalists said the action, which ended at midnight on Saturday, made a "significant impact".

But Saturday's Radio 4 Today programme went ahead, as did BBC One's Breakfast.

The NUJ, with 4,100 BBC members, rejected the BBC's "final" offer, while broadcast union Bectu accepted. Another strike is due on 15/16 November.

'Inevitable disruption'

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "It is a clear indication that BBC journalists will stand up for a fair pension deal.

"Programmes that are going out are being run by freelance staff or managers, using pre-recorded packages."

Mr Dear said the second day was 'solidly supported'.

Speaking from an NUJ picket line in Glasgow, he added that news programmes had virtually been written off in Scotland.

But the BBC said on Saturday that most viewers would not notice a drop in service.

A spokesman said: "It is not totally back to normal but not far off. It may not be quite as polished as it usually is, but for most viewers it will be the same service they are used to."

Strictly Come Dancing was not affected by the action, with the dancing stars of the show crossing picket lines.

The BBC said viewing figures for Friday's news bulletins had remained "more or less" in line with usual levels, and traffic to the News website was also normal.

NUJ members at the BBC are also set to observe an indefinite work to rule from Sunday, ensuring they take full breaks and only work their minimum prescribed hours.

The dispute stems from the BBC's plans to reduce a £1.5bn pensions deficit by capping increases in pensionable pay at 1% from next April.

Under the BBC's revised offer, the amount employees would have to pay into the pension scheme has been reduced from 7% to 6%.

In return, they would get a career-average benefit pension - based on the average salary over an employee's entire career - that would be revalued by up to 4% each year. The previous offer was 2.5%.

When employees draw their pension, payments will increase automatically each year in line with inflation, by up to 4% - again up from a previous offer of 2.5%.

Bectu, which represents technical and production staff, said after last month's ballot that the amended offer was "the best that can be achieved through negotiation".

But it added their position could be reviewed if the pensions deficit turned out to be less than £1.5bn.

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