Peace breaks out at BBC

THE threat of strike action at the BBC, over job cuts, has been averted following an agreement struck with trade unions,

After “extensive overnight talks” (on Tuesday night), the BBC and the joint unions, BECTU, the NUJ and UNITE have reached agreement in principle in the current dispute – although final agreement is subject to acceptance by a consultative ballot of the joint unions’ membership.

The BBC is seeking to make substantial budget cuts following a less-than-hoped-for Licence Fee settlement.

But the spectre of compulsory job cuts appears to have been lifted.

Says the director of BBC People, Stephen Kelly: “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.”

Adds BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey: “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.”

Continues NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear: “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.”