BBC strike action averted as talks end in agreement

The threat of BBC strike action has been averted after the corporation and unions reached agreement over possible compulsory redundancies in the latest round of cuts.

After overnight talks, the BBC and the joint unions – broadcasting union, Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Unite – announced they had reached agreement in principle in the current dispute.

The agreement is subject to acceptance by a consultative ballot of the joint unions’ membership.

In a joint statement, all parties welcomed the progress made so far on jobs, allowances and pensions and said they would continue to work together to achieve an acceptable final settlement.

Staff have been protesting about the BBC plan for 1,800 redundancies, along with proposed changes to employment terms and conditions and pensions.

The BBC’s 10,000 eligible union members had until today to cast their vote in a strike ballot, a deadline which was extended in the hope that a deal can be reached in the intervening period.

NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: ‘We’re pleased the imminent threat of compulsory redundancies has been addressed and that all staff required to work unpredictable hours will continue to get a fair deal. These negotiations now give us a basis on which we can address further changes proposed by the BBC.”

Director of BBC People, Stephen Kelly, said: “The negotiations with the trade unions have been very constructive given the complexity of the issues and the BBC’s financial position. We are hopeful that the proposed agreement will settle the dispute and enable the BBC to make the necessary changes required for the benefit of our audiences.”

Bectu general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, said: ‘This set of negotiations with the BBC has been particularly difficult given the financial constraints on the BBC and the number of areas targeted for cuts, all of which impact significantly on many staff. After extensive talks overnight we have an agreement in principle which we hope will pave the way for a final settlement of the dispute. Talks in BBC Vision will continue up until the opening of a consultative ballot in March.”

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