Union talks could avert fresh 48-hour BBC strike

Hopes were raised of averting a fresh 48-hour strike by BBC journalists after moves were made to agree new talks between union leaders and management.

Members of the National Union of Journalists staged a 48-hour walkout last Friday and Saturday in a row over pensions which disrupted radio and TV programmes, and are due to strike again on Monday and Tuesday

Behind-the-scenes moves are believed to have been held last night involving Gerry Morrissey, leader of the broadcasting workers’ union Bectu, raising hopes that a breakthrough could be achieved.

NUJ leaders are set to meet in the next few days and could consider calling off next week’s strike, sources said.

The union has been pressing the BBC to reconsider changes to its pension scheme if its deficit is found to be less than the currently estimated £1.5 billion when it is re-evaluated next year.

A senior BBC executive said: “The BBC is not prepared to reopen negotiations, the offer is the offer.

“We are happy to meet the joint unions to clarify some elements of the new arrangements, although we will not do this with the spectre of strikes which will impact the public still hanging over us.”

Last week’s walkout saw presenters including Radio Five Live’s Nicky Campbell and TV newsreaders Fiona Bruce and Huw Edwards join the action.

It led to the scrapping of popular programmes including Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, the World At One and PM, with freelance staff and non-union journalists also drafted in on the TV news channel.

The strike followed a 70 per cent rejection from NUJ members of the BBC’s offer on pensions, which the union described as making journalists “pay more, work longer and receive lower pensions”.

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