Siemens are the only provider of technology services at the BBC. At present they have more than 200 IT contractors working for the broadcaster but yesterday those contractors were asked to vote on a 24 hour strike.
Bectu announced the ballot and stated that they were forced into considering industrial action after 70 contractors were laid off and contractors were subsequently informed that their pay would be frozen. This ballot is due to run until 19th March. It is the advice of the union that contractors should vote in favour of the strike. Obviously any industrial action at the BBC could cause a great deal of disruption to their services.
Five years ago the BBC sold off its own technology arm and chose instead to outsource their technology requirements. The contractors currently working there are part of a £2 billion contract. Siemens is also considering off-shoring 50 contractor roles in the BBC’s server management department.
Bectu have commented that all BBC permanent workers should expect a pay deal which equals the 3.7% Retail Price Index with a 2% pay deal for the IT contractors. Bectu said it was a “double whammy” that saw pay frozen and contracted staff let go whereas many permanent BBC staff had actually received pay rises.
Suresh Chawla, Bectu national officer: “With the level of redundancies that we’ve already endured, and continue to face, it’s not even as if a pay freeze is safeguarding jobs.”