BBC strike canceled

Unions show proposals to members today

LONDON — BBC unions have called off a 48-hour strike beginning today, after the pubcaster’s bosses made a new peace offer.

The temporary truce was called after 20 hours of negotiations, which started at 10 a.m. Thursday and concluded at 6 a.m. Friday.

Staff walked out on strike May 23 in protest against plans by director-general Mark Thompson to axe about 4,000 jobs over the next three years.

The BBC has now offered a one-year moratorium on compulsory redundancies, on condition that the unions agree to voluntary redundancy schemes.

It has guaranteed not to privatize the BBC Resources division before June 2007; and pledged to protect the rights of workers in the proposed sale of the BBC Broadcast unit.

It has also promised to review the job losses scheduled for the third year of Thompson’s cost-cutting drive, depending on the progress made toward the savings target of £355 million ($648 million) a year.

The broadcasting unions will put the proposals to their members today. They are not recommending acceptance, but they have called off their planned strikes for today and Wednesday as a goodwill gesture.

If their members reject the deal, however, further strike action is likely.

In an email to BBC staff, Thompson made clear there would be no further concessions.

“This offer moves significantly to address the issues and concerns which the unions have raised with us,” he wrote. “We have told them that we have no further movement to make, no matter how long the dispute continues.”

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