Strike threat lifted at BBC

A union threat of industrial action over job cuts at the BBC has been suspended to allow further talks.

In a joint statement issued today by BECTU, NUJ, and Unite, the unions announced that negotiations over 2,500 job cuts, and changes to pensions and allowances, would resume on January 9.

Pickets at BBC Radio York during a 2005 strike over redundancies

Management have agreed to delay giving notice of any dismissals until January 23, and will use the fortnight’s hiatus to continue discussions with the unions which were broken off in November.

No announcement will be made about the outcome of union strike ballots which were due to close on January 9, and BECTU members have been warned in a bulk e-mail that the revived negotiations will be conducted behind closed doors.

Neither management nor the unions intend to report on progress of the talks until January 23.

The dispute centres on plans to cut 2,500 jobs in a range of BBC departments, along with the withdrawal from new staff of pay supplements which reward unpredictable working patterns.

Changes in pension benefits are also planned by the BBC, and the unions are resisting plans to abolish preferential retirement terms for staff over the age of 45 who are made redundant.

Text of the union/management statement issued on January 4

Following informal dialogue between the BBC and the Joint Unions it has been agreed that formal negotiations will take place between 9th and 23rd January 2008. During this period there will be no further communications.

The Joint Unions have agreed to make no announcements until 23rd January with regard their intentions to take industrial action and the BBC have agreed that there will be no announcements in relation to compulsory redundancies prior to that date.

Friday 4 January 2008