BBC director general in talks offer

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BBC director general Mark Thompson has agreed to meet union officials
but has said he will only clarify the offer made to them at ACAS last
week and discuss their concerns rather than negotiate further on his
savings plan. “We have a shared interest in resolving the dispute
promptly and working together to build a strong and independent BBC,”
said Thompson in a letter sent jointly to leaders of the NUJ, BECTU and
Amicus.
 
“I believe that this offer represents a significant movement by
the BBC to meet the concerns you have raised with us about the change
programme,” he said. “Unfortunately, we simply do not have any further
movement to make on the offer we tabled at ACAS and to suggest
otherwise would be disingenuous.
 
“Although we want to minimise
compulsory redundancies as far as possible, the BBC cannot give a
blanket commitment to no compulsory redundancies given the sale and
scope of the divisional change plans. No organisation could.”
 
Following
the talks at ACAS last week the BBC agreed to a freeze on compulsory
redundancies until 1 July 2006, a review in two years to see if
reinvestment in content areas can mitigate the net job losses and no
sale of BBC Resources before 1 June 2007 as well as a commitment to
ensure people and HR issues are a top priority in the sale of BBC
Broadcast. In his letter Thompson said it would be useful to meet, both
to clarify aspects of the offer and to discuss ways in which the BBC
can use existing agreed procedures to further reassure the trades
unions and their members about remaining concerns.
 
He added that one idea underpinning the offer was full co-operation of
the unions in the early stages of the change programme to mitigate net
job losses in the third year of the plan and to minimise compulsory
redundancies. “You will understand that without your co-operation, the
assurances
contained within the ACAS offer would have to be withdrawn as the
freeze on compulsory redundancies until 1 July 2006 is only achievable
if we can canvass for voluntary redundancies immediately. “Further
delay would put our savings plans at risk and impede the reinvestment
of savings into new programmes and services, which is in the interests
of licence payers and BBC staff alike.” It is anticipated that the
meeting will take place next week.

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