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30/11/2011

Broadcast Unions Come To 'Short-Term' Agreement With BBC

The broadcasting unions, BECTU, the NUJ and Unite have confirmed that a new agreement with the BBC over the conduct of talks on its cuts plan Delivering Quality First meets their short-term demands.
The unions have been balloting for strike action over the BBC’s previous refusal to lift artificial deadlines for changes to staff terms and conditions. The new agreement now means that the unions’ ballots – all of which were expected to return substantial votes in favour of strike action – will be halted and the immediate prospect of industrial action is averted.
The new agreement is a win for the unions whose members have been clear about their opposition to the planned withdrawal of key allowances for new staff from April 2012, and to changes to redundancy terms for current staff from September 2013.
The new agreement with the BBC, hammered out in talks during the past week, now means that all proposed changes to staff terms and conditions will be discussed as part of a single major review, to take place over the course of next year. The BBC has agreed that those talks will include discussions about recompense for unsocial hours as well as for unpredictable working.
Confirming the BBC’s earlier concession to include talks on the future of unpredictability allowances as part of the broader review of staff pay and grading, Diane Dumas, head of employee relations writing Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, for the joint unions said:
"we have also agreed in principle with you that all the proposed changes announced on 6 October as reflected in the letter to the joint unions dated 12 October will now be discussed as part of pay and grading reform negotiations and that we will extend the proposed implementation date for changes to new starter terms and conditions from 1 April 2012 to 31 December 2012."
Commenting on the breakthrough, which has now been endorsed by representatives from all three unions, Gerry Morrissey said:"BBC staff should draw some real comfort from the outcome of talks with BBC management this week. The support from union members in the ballots and their willingness to voice their concerns locally have paid off. The gun which was pointed at our heads has now been removed and we will enter the talks on staff conditions without any preconditions as to what the outcome will be.
"I have no doubt that the talks will be complex and difficult. However, staff now know that their employment terms will not be compromised before the robust negotiations we expect have even begun. It is imperative that all BBC staff support the joint unions during these talks."
(LB)
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