Thousands of Bectu union members in the BBC have begun voting on a proposal to end a dispute over job cuts and privatisation.
Ballot papers are being sent to home addresses of more than 8,000 members who are being asked to accept an offer from the BBC made at conciliation service Acas after a one-day strike last month.
Bectu’s decision to put the offer to members, with a recommendation that it should be accepted, was approved at the union’s annual conference of BBC delegates in early June.
However, the union held off commencing the ballot until satisfactory assurances about pensions and job security had been given to staff in BBC Broadcast, which could be privatised later this year.
Ballot papers are now on their way to members in the three parts of the BBC affected directly by the plans for 4,000 job cuts, and possible privatisation of subsidiaries, announced by director-general Mark Thompson in December 2004.
The package tabled at Acas last month promises that there will be no compulsory redundancies elsewhere in the BBC until July 2006 at the earliest, and postpones for at least two years the threatened privatisation of another subsidiary, BBC Resources.
If union members accept the offer, urgent talks will take place in every division to discuss the practical impact of Thompson’s plans for major job reductions across the corporation.
The ballots on the offer are due to close on Monday 4 July.