(AFP) – Oct 19, 2007
LONDON (AFP) — Trade unions representing workers at the BBC said Friday they had pulled back from balloting members on strike action to protest 1,800 planned redundancies and sweeping cuts.
The National Union of Journalists' (NUJ) general secretary Jeremy Dear said that it, alongside broadcasting workers' union Bectu and Unite, which represents technical workers, would now hold talks with the BBC.
Bectu added in a statement: "The threat of industrial action ballots being run today has been lifted following the BBC suspending its voluntary redundancy trawl."
The bodies had threatened to ballot on strike action which could have disrupted live television broadcasts including news and sport unless the BBC refrained from sending out a letter asking for volunteers for redundancy Friday.
The BBC said in a statement earlier that it would delay writing to staff until November 5, adding it wanted to "continue the dialogue" with unions.
"We are pleased the BBC have stepped back from the brink and agreed to union calls for meaningful talks to take place at a national level," Dear said.
The talks would allow the unions to make clear concerns about the six-year cuts programme and look at whether staff facing redundancy could be redeployed or retrained, he added.
The BBC unveiled the cuts Thursday, which were prompted by the need to fill a two-billion-pound funding gap which opened up because it received less cash than expected from the government for the next six years.
It also plans to sell its headquarters in west London and reduce the number of programmes it commissions by 10 percent.
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