Timetable agreed for BBC dispute talks

New negotiations are being set up to resolve the jobs and conditions dispute in BBC Resources.

The move came during five hours of union/management discussions which followed a strike on December 2 by staff in London TV Studios, OBs, and Post Production and Graphics.

Faced with an indefinite work to rule on January 1 if no agreement could be reached on plans to save £12m, management in London Operations agreed to re-open talks on scheduling, late night/early morning transport, acting payments, new job descriptions, and a reorganisation of Studio Engineering.

Meetings are being scheduled in the week before Christmas, and management have also promised to respond to the union's demand that they should drop plans to cut payments for travel in London and turns of duty involving long hours or short breaks.

BECTU confirmed at the meeting held today, Friday December 15, that current proposals for no travel payments within 15 miles of base, and scrapping of reward and voluntarism for days over 12 hours or breaks less than 11, were unacceptable to members.

Compulsory redundancies were also highlighted by BECTU as a major issue that could prevent the union agreeing to the savings plan. Up to 10 staff are threatened with dismissal after going through a redundancy selection process, and more than 40 in Studio Management section have been given notice of redundancy due to the closure of their department.

Internal discussions within the BBC about the future supply of Studio Floor Managers, Assistant Floor Managers and Floor Assistants to TV programmes were recently revived, and London Operations management are still waiting to hear if production departments are willing to fund some of them directly by retaining them on permanent contracts.

Earlier efforts to preserve Studio Management were dashed when production areas turned down proposals to keep the department going, and the union has demanded direct discussions with senior programme-makers if the talks fail for a second time.

BECTU's threat of a work-to-rule from January 1 is now dependent on the position London Operations management adopt over the status quo - if existing agreements continue beyond the New Year the work-to-rule will be postponed. Management have promised to confirm their view of the status quo early in week beginning December 18.

If the revived round of discussions leads to significant new proposals from management, the union expects to re-ballot members before the end of January 2001.

A full report of today's meeting will be released later during the course of negotiations. The first meeting in the new talks round is set for Monday December 18.

15 December 2000
Amended 16 December 2000
Amended 29 December 2000