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Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Unions call off BBC strike ballot
BBC Employees strike in May 2005
BBC Employees held a strike in May 2005 over redundancy plans
Unions have called off a ballot of some 10,000 BBC employees which could have led to strike action.

The vote was called earlier this week after a row about wages and pensions.

Union officials said staff were angered by the high salaries being awarded to top managers when most workers were being offered pay rises of 2.6%.

However, after eight hours of discussions with director general Mark Thompson on Thursday, the ballot has been suspended.

Bectu, Amicus and the National Union of Journalists told their members that "progress has been made".

Their representatives will meet to discuss the outcome of the negotiations next week.

Pay rise

Last week, the BBC's annual report revealed that the corporation's executives had been awarded significant pay increases.

Mark Thompson and Michael Grade
Last year the BBC saved 105m after introducing a number of cuts
Mr Thompson's salary rose to 609,000 in 2005-6, with his deputy Mark Byford receiving 403,000.

The director general waived his right to a bonus but his colleagues did not. The BBC said the pay rises were required to bring salaries up to market levels.

As well as executive pay increases, the unions are angry at plans to change the BBC's pension scheme and the loss of more than 1,100 jobs in the past year.

The job losses were part of the corporation's plans to streamline the BBC for the digital age, under a scheme known as Creative Futures.

It will result in 3,780 job cuts and the restructuring of various departments over a period of three years.

The BBC also plans to close its final salary pension scheme to new employees.

It wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 and increase staff contributions to pensions.

'Immense anger'

Speaking earlier this week, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said senior executives at the corporation "cannot be surprised by the immense anger with which their actions have been met by hard-working staff".

Responding to the threat of strike action, the BBC said: "We recognise that it's been a difficult time for staff, given the changes we need to make to continue to serve our audiences.

"We are concerned that any industrial action would affect those viewers and listeners."

In May 2005, staff staged a 24-hour strike over the BBC's redundancy plans, which resulted in disruption to television, radio and online output.

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