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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
'Peace offer' suspends BBC strike
Striking BBC employees picket outside BBC Television Centre
Striking employees picketed outside BBC Television Centre last week
Broadcasting unions have called off a 48-hour strike by BBC staff to give members time to consider what they describe as "a new peace offer".

The two parties held talks through the night at conciliation service Acas to avert Tuesday and Wednesday's strike.

The BBC say they have made "fresh commitments" that include a one-year moratorium on compulsory redundancies.

The corporation also promised to review cuts in its content divisions, a move that could "mitigate" total job losses.

"This offer moves significantly to address the issues and concerns which the unions have raised with us," said director general Mark Thompson in a letter to BBC staff.


However, he said the BBC had told the unions "we have no further movement to make, no matter how long the dispute continues".

Mr Thompson said he welcomed the decision to suspend the strike and that the corporation was having a "productive relationship" with unions.

'Significant concessions'

The unions said the BBC had made significant concessions over privatisation but had not yet addressed fears over job losses.

The key points of the BBC's offer are:

  • No compulsory redundances before 1 July 2006, provided unions agree to voluntary redundancy schemes;

  • A commitment to review post reductions planned for the final year of its three-year savings plan;

  • No privatisation of BBC Resources - which runs studios, production facilities and outside broadcast operations - in whole or in part before 1 June 2007;

  • An assurance to make "people issues" such as pension arrangements a "top priority" in the sale of BBC Broadcast, which provides technical and creative services to TV channels.

    The unions will meet on Tuesday to discuss their next step.


    The announcement that the strike had been suspended came after 20 hours of talks at Acas, and a face-to-face meeting between the director general and representatives of the unions.

    The BBC has published plans that could see the loss of nearly 4,000 jobs, which resulted in a 24-hour strike by staff on Monday.

    A joint statement from Bectu, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Amicus said the unions had agreed to put the corporation's latest proposal to a meeting of representatives on Tuesday.

    "The unions are not recommending acceptance of this proposal," said the statement.

    "However, in order to allow for proper consideration and as a gesture of goodwill, the planned strikes on 31 May and 1 June have been suspended."

    Mark Thompson
    BBC director general Mark Thompson met with the unions

    They said they reserved the right to call further strike action should the BBC's proposals be turned down by members.

    Stephen Dando, the director of BBC People - the corporation's human resources division - said: "The BBC believes an opportunity to resolve this dispute is now in sight.

    "We welcome the union's decision to suspend next week's industrial action whilst they consult their members.

    "The BBC has tried to be flexible in meeting the unions' concerns and we very much hope that is the first step in what will be a productive relationship with the unions in the coming months."

    It said it would not comment further until the unions had consulted their members and formally responded on Tuesday.

    Both sides give their reaction to the outcome


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