BBC staff face pay penalty for poor work

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The Independent Online
THE BBC revealed a plan yesterday to end feather-bedding and 'Byzantine practices' among its staff, as part of a package to save pounds 50m in the financial year starting in April. Its central feature is an annual review to assess each employee's performance, with financial penalties for those who do not come up to scratch.

Rod Lynch, the BBC's managing director for resources, admitted that the cost-saving measures would involve 'considerable pain', above that inflicted by the Producer Choice internal market system under which 11 per cent of resources previously supplied by the BBC have been contracted to outside companies. The axe was likely to fall most heavily at Television Centre, west London, where facilities will close and more jobs will go.

Mr Lynch was hired from private industry last May to introduce rigorous business standards into what John Birt, the director-general, has always regarded as a flabby and self-indulgent bureaucracy. He is behind yesterday's initiative.

Tony Lennon, president of Bectu, the main staff union, was scornful of the proposals. 'It will mean dramatic cuts in some people's income. This is about cost-cutting to help balance the books because of Producer Choice. The BBC has sacked almost everyone it can and is now attacking the pay packets of those who remain.'

The criteria for performance-related pay are set out in a document called Managing the Future. Staff will be set 'personal objectives' and once a year will be assessed on how far they have met them. In the case of production staff, the popularity of their programmes could be a factor.

Those judged to have done well will be awarded bonuses and salary increases higher than the standard increase agreed with the union. With effect from 1996, when the system will be fully operational, staff thought to have underperformed could get less than the standard increase.

The evaluation system will apply to all grades, even managers, who will be judged on how effectively they have reviewed work of subordinates.