back to article Siemens union threatens BBC strike

Members of media union Bectu have voted in favour of strike action to oppose a BBC pay freeze for tech staff. Siemens staff working at the BBC voted for action unless talks on Wednesday prove successful, after a giant outsourcing deal. Bectu told the BBC the result on Friday and the two sides will meet again on Wednesday. …


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  1. Chris Miller


    There are only 3 scenarios in which outsourcing may make sense:

    [a] where economies of scale can be achieved - unlikely if 1,400 staff are involved;

    [b] where the 'sale and leaseback' of staff can be used to provide a cash injection that can keep the annual bonuses rolling long enough for your golden parachute to kick in - not applicable in a non-profit like the Beeb; and

    [c] where IT management is FUBAR - but then the obvious course of action is to sack the clueless bastards and employ someone competent.

    The Beeb have obviously discovered:

    [d] leaping onto a bandwagon whose 'sell by' date is long past.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seen it before..

      [e] where you hope that after 2 year TUPE protection, the new "commercial" company will axe staff in order to pass on savings that are demanded... BBC will be able to say this is now of their hands

      This won't affect broadcasting, the only (if any) effects will be longer term.

      1. Chris Miller


        But would argue that [e] is a special case of [c].

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @Chris Miller

          (e) is, in fact, a special case of (b), with two interesting twists: the managers that arranged this outsourcing have earned big bonuses for a loss-making exercise (as pointed out by the Public Accounts Committee) and have also earned the distrust of technical staff, who wouldn't dream of returning to work for such a dreadful employer as the BBC.

          The carpetbaggers in charge of the BBC aren't concerned about the BBC's future, unlike most BBC employees and users, because their political patrons will take care of them and allow them to make the rest of the workforce redundant bit by bit. The result will be a restrictive video playout channel that's dependent on politicians to support a licence fee which fewer and fewer people pay. The Italian solution will be delivered, unfortunately to the benefit of Murdoch, who is even more of a threat to democracy than Bellusconi.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Sick of adding bl00dy titles

      I currently work for a bank^H^H^H^H^Hthe taxpayer and option B is definitely the one reason for the imminent outsourcing of it's IT systems.

      Every study over the last 10 years into the bank IT showed that it should have been impossible to run the systems as well as they did with the ridiculously low number of staff and that it wouldn't never be financially beneficial to outsource.

      But hey presto now it is.........

  2. Jaques Croissant


    Seimens are so piss-poor that if they went on strike, no-one would notice. Tech/support inoits that have been retained in the beeb proper often end up having to clear up the mess they made, then get the original work done anyway.

    All together now... "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...."

    Anonymous because, well, work it out yourself :)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good Work

      I see you are showing your brilliant IT skills by failing even the simple task of making your self Anonymous!


      1. Chika


        Perhaps, then, you can tell everyone who this "Croissant" person is then?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters


      Having worked at the Beeb in the summer, i can confirm that the Seimens people are useless, and i hate to think how much they are charging. Kudos to the poor in house techies who get all the flack and none of the pay - and whos' jobs have been reduced to filling out mountains of paperwork to issue kettle leads.

      Anonymous... <looks nervously up at the empty sky> .. "they're alwasy watching"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Having worked for Siemens at the Beeb, I can confirm that the Siemens people were useless, too. I don't mind saying that because I was one of the 1,400 who transferred from BBC Technology. In the 3 years I worked there after the transfer the quality of support received by BBC staff fell significantly. Various projects were impressively messed up, perhaps most notably the IP phone system someone else has mentioned here. In December they made all the experienced long-serving staff redundant because they were the most expensive, so I dread to think what the service is like now.

        I remember the new manager they brought in to replace the highly competent and knowledgeable existing one being given a tour of the office:

        "...and this cabinet is where we keep the Macs".

        "What's the "Max"?"


  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    More head burying by ostriches ....... flightless wonders.

    It will probably surprise no one that the news is hard to find, if it be carried at all, on the BBC websites. There's a lot of propaganda and horror stories, talking up of terror alerts and uncertain times ahead though ....... which is NOT by any stretch of the Imagination, Creative.

    The BBC appears to be Lost in the Modern Wwworld........ and most certainly Missing Altogether in ITs Adults Only Section.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1


      Wow, that was actually fairly good for a weak AI !

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's not just the BBC staff being given the rough treatment...

    Siemens (SIS) have also put all staff on a pay-freeze this year.

    They have also just announced over 1500 redundancies to be made.

    I always thought that pay-freezes were meant to be an alternative to redundancies? Not bad for a company that dares to announce large increases in profits in the last quarter 2009/first quarter 2010!

    My question is when the other unions representing SIS staff will catch up with Bectu?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Mr/s Croissant

    Use your loaf Guv'nor. They would be toast if they revealed their name. Maybe they're Danish. Who knows? It looks like they're doughnut, but hey.

    Am off to Greg's*. All this talk has made me peckish.

    *other purveyors of baked goods are available

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why why why?

    Seems a lot of private sector staff in the last 12+ months have been receiving a pay freeze and some of us up to a 40% cut (like it or quit is the view). How comes these numpties think they are so special and deserve to buck the trend?

    I dont see why anybody in the last 12 months or anybody in the coming 12 months could honestly expect their companies to be able to afford to offer a payrise....haven't y'all heard there is a recession out there! Just look at the companies folding in recent time for evidence. (lets not talk about the banking sector). Bring back woolies!

    Strike all you like I say, but for god sake Seimens, dont give in - be strong and sack'em for striking over pay - which is a piss poor reason for strikes if you ask me. Strike over poor working conditions or unfair treatment, but pay... cumon !

    Me personally, if a company wont give a payrise and I think the market and the company can afford it, then i'll move on to one that will pay the rate I think I am worth... simplez, dont moan, just walk. Its one of the most powerful messages to a company when their staff leave over poor pay. It is even more amusing when they try to fill your post and discover £13.50 a week wont get you much in the way of skilled staff.

  7. Trancer

    Before or after a functioning IP phone system?


    Do the employees expect to get this payrise before or after the IP phone system, which has lamentably failed on a number of occasions, (once to the embarassment of a Beeb controller during a show), has been fixed?

    I'd like to know.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      BBC managers love it...

      ..when they make stupid decisions, such as making their phone systems totally dependent on IP, and then get to shift the blame to Siemens.

      Just to make sure it gets through: BBC MANAGERS CHOSE THE IP-BASED PHONE SYSTEM. Siemens just have to try to sort out the mess.

      On another point, Siemens is making a profit (despite the recession) but demanding both redundancies and pay cuts from employees. Go figure.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just this once I'm AC

    It's not just Siemens who are doing the dirty work the Beeb were to scared/incompetent to carry out.

    Nearly two years ago BBC Television Outside Broadcasts was sold off to SIS. As part of the deal, BECTU negotiated that SIS would provide a final salary pension scheme for staff over fifty. This was duly set up with great fanfare and warm fuzzy statements about how wonderful SIS would be to us.

    Less than two years down the line, we have already had a pay freeze and notice that the final salary scheme will be closed next year.

    I'm surprised it lasted that long.

  9. Dick Emery

    Sing with me

    Welcome, welcome, welcome home to IIIIII TEEEEE VEEEEE!

    God I am getting old.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are office systems so bad?

    What really angers me is that the BBC office systems are so hard to use. (There are other Siemens-related frustrations, but that's another story.)

    For example, the Web Kiosk system at the BBC for adding leave days is ridiculously difficult to use -- likewise the internal wikis and travel booking systems (i.e. not just Siemens).

    This kind of bad software affects the daily lives of virtually every employee -- it's a huge source of frustration and drain on productivity, and makes the corporation look stupid.

    Same as every other company I ever worked for. There's nothing wrong with individual Siemens employees -- in my experience, they're generally friendly and helpful.

    At the BBC, like in most companies, making office systems easy to use is never seen as a priority.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Miller

    Outsourcing works when you're using a company with specialist skills and tapping into their investment and experience to save money. A simple example used by most businesses: getting business cards printed. You don't need it very often, the equipment is expensive to set up, so you and thousands of customers pay a company that does.

    A lot of computer outsourcing isn't like that. They hire in one of the big consultancies who then hire in staff and run the team to specifically build the software you need. In my experience, there's no scaling of this operation. Someone running the IT at one site doesn't help the IT at another. You aren't getting anything but a localised team, often comprising of contractors that you could have hired for 1/3rd of the price they're being billed out to you.

    I suspect most of it is just senior managers who want an easy life. Rather than actually have to manage staff, they can just manage a single contract, and if it all goes titsup, and if they've hired the sort of company with sharp suited assholes that people believe have a great track record (haha), they just blame the company.

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