Unions withdraw strike action threat at BBC

BBC unions have withdrawn the threat of more strike action in the immediate future, after making a breakthrough in talks with corporation management over plans to axe 4,000 jobs.

The latest proposals offered to the NUJ, Amicus and Bectu include the offer of a further meeting with the director general, Mark Thompson, before the end of 2005 to discuss the progress of his cost-cutting plans.

Both sides have also resolved that any disagreements at BBC divisional level about implementing the cuts could be referred back to national officials in the three unions.

Bectu will be balloting its members on the latest BBC offer in the next few days, while officials from the NUJ will meet to discuss it next Wednesday.

However, the unions have reserved the right to resume strike action within seven days if divisional level talks result in compulsory redundancies.

The three unions have also said that if the number of voluntary redundancies in any individual departments put an unacceptable workload on those who remained, they would instruct their members to work to rule.

“These concessions from the BBC, in addition to the original Acas offer, are something our members should consider seriously since it may offer a way to a negotiated settlement,” said Bectu official Luke Crawley, lead negotiator for the unions.

Twenty-four hours of industrial action by thousands of BBC staff last month forced many television and radio news programmes off air and severely curtailed others.

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