BBC avoids immediate strike ballot

The BBC has staved off strike action after delaying plans to look for voluntary redundancies.

The corporation has said it will postpone sending out letters asking for staff to come forward for voluntary redundancy for a period of two weeks.

Broadcasting union Bectu, the NUJ and Unite had threatened to ballot for strike action this afternoon if the letters went out today as expected.

The unions said in a joint statement that the BBC had ‘responded positively’to their request for discussions on a national framework agreement.

The BBC decision, which was taken at an emergency meeting of its executive board this morning, means it could start sending out staff redundancy notices from 5 November.

The unions said the talks on a national framework would cover issues including redeployment and training for staff facing the threat of redundancy.

The national framework will ensure that there is consistency within the process across the corporation.

The unions have asked the BBC to reconsider plans to end unpredictability allowance – where staff are paid extra if they are given short notice of when they are due to work. The corporation had planned to scrap the allowance for all new staff from next January.

The Bectu general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, said: “We are pleased Mark Thompson and the board have seen sense and are honouring the joint unions’ existing national agreement to consult the unions.

“We called for meaningful consultation and welcome the commitment to reach a framework agreement which will pave the way for divisional level talks.

“There are several issues in the letter which cause us concern but we would expect to address those at the national level talks.”

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