BBC union calls off walkout

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The Independent Online
LEADERS of BBC technicians last night called off a second strike planned for next week following marathon peace talks over a dispute about privatisation.

Live radio and television broadcasts were hit on Thursday when members of Bectu staged a 24-hour walkout which the union was threatening to repeat on Tuesday. But after 13 hours of talks between the two sides with the conciliation service Acas, it was announced that next week's strike has been called off.

After officials from Bectu and BBC made separate presentations to Acas, the conciliation service announced it believed a negotiated settlement was possible. Fresh talks will be held next Wednesday and Thursday although the union will press ahead with a planned lobby of Parliament on Tuesday.

The union is seeking assurances over job security and protection of earnings and has warned that the BBC is privatising parts of the Corporation "by stealth". But the BBC maintains there are no plans to privatise the Corporation.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "This is good news ... and we are making good progress in talks."