BBC freelancers in Bristol have won the right to vote on union recognition.
The legal body which oversees new legislation on union representation has ruled that a group of Bectu freelance members qualify as 'workers' and can therefore take part in a ballot to determine whether the union can bargain on their behalf.
Lawyers from the BBC had argued that the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) should not approve the ballot on the grounds that the freelancers concerned were independent entrepreneurs, and not workers as described in the Employment Relations Act.
There is no direct right of appeal against the CAC's decision to accept the union recognition claim submitted by Bectu on behalf of members who regularly work for the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol.
The CAC will now proceed with the lengthy process of checking the union's claim that many of the freelancers are Bectu members, and will then oversee the postal ballot on recognition.
Traditionally the BBC has refused to discuss terms and conditions for freelancers with the union, and the CAC ruling could dramatically alter the rights of freelance staff throughout the corporation.