BBC agrees to postpone compulsory redundancies

The BBC has scrapped plans to send 200 staff compulsory redundancy notices at the end of the month, after an agreement between broadcasting unions and management was reached in a meeting yesterday.

The agreement, struck after five hours of talks between senior union negotiators and the BBC director-general Mark Thompson, mean that negotiations across all divisions where there are still outstanding issues will be extended for two months.

Compulsory redundancy notices which were due to be sent out on 1 February will now not be issued. The earliest the BBC will consider issuing such notices is now 1 April.

Thompson has given his assurance that he will impress on management in the divisions that they must do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.

A joint statement from the BBC, Bectu, NUJ and Amicus was issued today:

“Both sides acknowledged the considerable progress made in divisional talks since last June’s Acas agreement.The unions emphasised that compulsory redundancies were unacceptable to their members.They also told Mark Thompson that they believed there were further steps the BBC could take to achieve its targets through voluntary rather than compulsory means but said they were concerned that time was running out and that, unless progress could be made, further industrial action was inevitable.

“For the BBC, Mark Thompson said that the [corporation] had to meet its value for money and headcount targets and that the change programme had to continue within the context of the existing divisional talks and the timetable laid down in the Acas agreement. The DG however committed himself to ensuring that the unions’ suggestions were fed into the divisional talks.”

The cutbacks are part of a savings programme which aims to save the corporation £355m by 2008.

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