Talks avert Jubilee strike at BBC

 

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The Independent Online

The threat of a strike by BBC journalists and technicians over the Diamond Jubilee weekend has been removed after talks over pay.

Members of the National Union of Journalists, Unite and the technicians' union Bectu were being balloted for industrial action in protest at a 1% pay rise.

A joint statement said unions and management recognised that the BBC faced some "very tough" financial challenges in the coming years.

The statement said that both sides accepted there will be no increase in the 1% offer this year, adding that they remain committed to constructive national wage bargaining.

The BBC said annual pay settlements will continue and it will not move to regional bargaining.

The corporation said it will retain as many staff as possible during the current "difficult period" but some compulsory redundancies may be unavoidable.

Union leaders had warned that BBC coverage of events over the Jubilee weekend next month could have been hit by a strike.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "We are now making constructive and positive progress with trying to find proper and long-term solutions. The immediate risk of redundancies at TV current affairs and the World Service have been averted. This has only been achieved because NUJ members have stood solidly together in opposition to compulsory redundancies.

"We have been deeply concerned by the failure of the redeployment process so the settlement today addresses the problem which we welcome.

"The BBC's stance on pay is disappointing, but the package of concessions on other pay-related issues and appraisals addresses key concerns for journalists across the BBC."

A BBC spokesman said: "It is great news that the threat of a strike has been lifted and that BBC viewers will now be able to enjoy the Diamond Jubilee coverage without fear of interruption."

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of Bectu, said: "There is absolutely no question that the BBC's handling of this year's pay talks will continue to anger staff and what is more, our members, not least in London, will suffer financially.

"However, from the soundings we have taken, viewed nationally, pay was not the primary concern and in light of this we doubted the success of strike action over the Jubilee weekend.

"However, putting basic pay to one side for the moment, we believe that this week's agreement with the BBC, incorporating as it does valuable concessions, not only on collective bargaining but on key allowances, appraisals and on redeployment, represents vital protections for staff which will resonate with members across the country."

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