Television Licensing workers take strike action

Over 500 staff in TV Licensing, who collect payments to fund the BBC television, online and radio services, are to walk out today over a dispute concerning pay as management refuses to improve a below-inflation pay offer.

Picket lines in Bristol and Darwen will, the Communication Workers Union say, bring TV Licensing call centres to a standstill throughout the day. Staff are seeking an improved pay offer after no pay increase for nearly two years.

Staff have become increasingly frustrated after the company refused to raise pay last year, the union state. The current offer of £550 and £600 for 2010 and 2011 respectively – worth 2.6 to 2.7 per cent for higher grades – falls far short of retail price index levels, which have averaged 5 per cent since April 2010.

Members of the CWU rejected that pay offer by 88 per cent in a consultative ballot in August. In the absence of an improved offer the CWU moved to a strike ballot which 586 ballot papers were issued, 301 members voted in favour of strike action, with 89 members voting against, giving a 77.2 per cent yes vote.

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “Our members at Capita TV Licensing are facing a pay cut in real terms from a company which makes millions in profit every year. We’re asking for a simple improvement in their pay offer which at 2.6 per cent is almost half the rate of inflation.

“The last thing our members want is strikes, but the employer has left people with no choice. They are facing increased food, energy and transport bills and work for a company which can afford to reward its staff with fair wages.

“Even at this late stage, I call on Capita to drop its intransigence, come back to negotiations and resolve this dispute.

“But make no mistake, our members are determined to win a fair deal and if we strike – we strike solid and we strike to win.”

Workers across the UK, working on the BBC TV licensing contract, including two main sites at Darwen in Lancashire and Bristol, are planning strike action which will see TV licensing brought to a nationwide halt. The picket lines are scheduled to commence at 7.30am.

A Capita spokesperson said they were disapointed with the strike action and hoped to continue a good service for their customers. The company collects the payments for the BBC..