Hope for BBC staff as union talks go on

By Caitlin Pike

BBC staff facing compulsory redundancy this year have been delivered
a lifeline after an agreement between broadcasting unions and BBC
management was reached in a meeting last week.

The agreement, struck after five hours of talks between senior union
negotiators and BBC director general Mark Thompson, will lead to
further negotiations and halt plans to send out compulsory redundancy
notices at the end of this month.

The cutbacks at the BBC, affecting around 200 staff, are part of a savings programme that aims to save the BBC £355m by 2008.

of the agreement reached mean that negotiations across all divisions
where there are still outstanding issues will be extended for a further
two months.

Compulsory redundancy notices, which were due to be
sent out on 1 February, will now not be issued. The earliest the BBC
will consider issuing such notices is now 1 April.

Thompson has
given his assurance that he will impress on management in the divisions
that they must do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancy.

The unions remain hopeful that sufficient progress can be made during the course of these new talks.

the three unions also made it clear to BBC management that should they
not be able to reach a position that avoided compulsory redundancy,
they reserved the right to take further industrial action.

This was the unanimous view of NUJ and BECTU representatives who met earlier this week.

national broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin said: “The unions
believe that the negotiations should be concluded as soon as possible.

while the threat of compulsory redundancy remains, the mandate from our
members is clear: continue talking, continue negotiating and if
necessary continue fighting until the threat of compulsory redundancy
is removed.

“The director general offered to meet union officials
towards the end of the year for a further update on progress on the
change programme.”

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