It was revealed last week that BBC Director General Mark Thompson is holding on to his pension scheme while asking employees to take a cut. Now staff plan on protesting their pension cut by disrupting live broadcast events. Threatened blackouts include the Pope’s visit to Britain, the Last Night of the Proms, and live coverage of the Ryder Cup golf tournament.
The blackout protest of the Papal visit would be a large embarrassment to BBC. It will be the first visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Britain. It would be expected that the BBC would hear from the 7.5 million Catholics in Britain should this historic visit become a victim to the BBC controversy.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “This is a very significant visit and it is very important that the Pope is seen and heard by the people.”
Ballot papers for strike plans by broadcasting unions will be sent out this week. Results are expected by September 9 right before the live events that may become a part of the dispute between staff and executives.
The Sunday Express exposed that BBC top executives receive top-up payments to side step the pension cap imposed on BBC staff. All eleven board members and thirty other executives are enjoying their full pension schemes. Pension perks for these executives are listed as “other renumeration” vs pension. Other staff have been asked to accept a cap of 1 per cent.
BBC had stated the pension changes for staff was essential to repair the company’s deficit in their pension scheme. It is now estimated at 2 billion pounds and was at 470 million two years ago.
A BBC spokesman said: “We believe the proposals we are making will deliver a pension scheme that is sustainable, affordable, and flexible for BBC staff and the license fee payer. We kn0w staff have concerns about the proposed changes but we will continue to listen and try to address these.”