BBC unions set to reject peace offer in jobs dispute

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The Independent Online

BBC radio and television is expected to face fresh industrial action by journalists protesting over plans to axe 4,000 jobs.

Representatives of the National Union of Journalists are today set to reject an offer by the corporation aimed at averting more strikes. The craft union Amicus might reject the proposals, or argue that they should be put out for consultation to members.

Leaders of the technicians' union Bectu are also due to meet, but the organisation's officials believe the BBC proposals may be enough to avoid new disruption by their members.

Any split in the united front so far shown by the unions would limit the effectiveness and scope of the employees' protests.

In the absence of industrial action by technicians, journalists will have to concentrate their fire on areas of strength that would involve the disruption of national and regional news programmes. Without the backing of the technicians' union, it would be much more difficult to affect outside broadcasts such as the coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships.

An offer tabled by the BBC, after a 24-hour stoppage last week, proposes a one-year moratorium on compulsory redundancies and a postponement of at least two years of the sale of BBC Resources. The compromise also included a guarantee that by 10 June, staff at BBC Broadcast, the digital transmission business in the process of being sold off, will have clear assurances that their pension rights will be protected.

Leaders of all three unions agreed to call off a 48-hour walkout planned for this week, so that staff representatives could scrutinise the package. But none of the organisations was prepared to recommend the offer officially.