Show Hide image

BBC and unions reach 'in-principle agreement’ over pension dispute

Move is expected to lift the threat of further strikes at the BBC

The BBC and journalists' unions have reached an " in-principle agreement " to resolve the dispute over staff pensions.

The move is expected to lift the threat of further strikes at the BBC.

Following talks at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) between the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), other broadcasting unions and the BBC, the corporation is understood to have agreed to upgrade pension contributions by up to 4 per cent a year.

Lucy Adams, the BBC People director, said in a staff e-mail that discussions between joint employee unions and the BBC reached a conclusion and an in-principle agreement was signed by the joint unions on this final outstanding point.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the agreement would be communicated to the staff representatives on Friday.

The BBC had twice provided concessions on its proposed pension plans following strike threats from the unions.

The BBC's June proposal to revalue the career-average benefit pension by 2.5 per cent was rejected by all unions.

However, its proposal to increase new career-average benefit pensions each year by 4 per cent or by the rate of inflation, depending on which is the lower figure, was accepted by four unions including Bectu, but was rejected by the NUJ.

Show Hide image

No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.