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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 12:09 GMT
Deal puts off BBC strike threat
BBC Director General Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson said compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out
Strike threats at the BBC have been deferred after unions agreed to a deal averting the threat of compulsory redundancies at the corporation.

Unions said more strikes were "inevitable" unless job cuts were achieved by voluntary redundancies.

Director general Mark Thompson said he would "redouble efforts" to minimise compulsory redundancies, but could not guarantee there would be none.

The BBC is cutting 3,780 posts as part of a money-saving exercise.

Bectu, Amicus and the NUJ - the unions representing technical staff and journalists - spent five hours in talks with Mr Thompson and senior managers.

The unions wanted the BBC's assurance that no staff would be subject to compulsory redundancies.

'Clear commitment'

BBC staff held a one-day strike in May 2005 over the job cuts and further strikes were averted following lengthy talks at conciliation service Acas.

As part of those talks it was agreed no compulsory redundancies would be made before July 2006.

The BBC management has now promised to step up efforts seeking voluntary redundancy.

At present about 250 people still face compulsory redundancy to ensure the BBC's "value for money" plan stays on track.

Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of Bectu, said: "It does not mean that industrial action is abandoned entirely, but there is now a clear commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies."

'Constructive meeting'

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said they remained hopeful that "progress can be made".

However he added: "The three unions also made it clear to BBC management that should we not be able to reach a position which avoided compulsory redundancy we reserved our right to take further industrial action."

Amicus' National Officer for the BBC, Mike Smallwood, described the meeting with the BBC as "constructive", saying the corporation had " moved a considerable way".

"We are optimistic that the changes can be made without need for compulsory redundancies and have agreed a new timetable which will again reduce the need for there to be any forced job cuts," he said.


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