Unions reject offer, prep for additional strikes

LONDON — Further strikes at the BBC are in the cards after unions rejected a peace offering from director general Mark Thompson.

His proposals included a one-year moratorium on the 4,000 compulsory job cuts while seeking voluntary lay-offs; postponing the sale of BBC Resources for two years; and assurances on pension rights for staff at BBC Broadcast, the digital transmission business to be sold off.

Leaders of the National Union of Journalists plus broadcast unions Bectu and Amicus called off the 48-hour walkout that was to start Tuesday to discuss the package.

But all three rejected the offer late Tuesday because if didn’t address the high number of job losses and said more strikes would be called if Thompson refused to sit down for further talks.

Thompson’s offer came after last week’s 20-hour stint at Blighty’s industrial conciliation service Acas, where both sides discussed their differences.

“BBC management would be well advised to seriously rethink these cuts if they want to avoid more disruption,” said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear. “If they do not get serious, we will strike. We are determined to ensure that the BBC is not dismantled in this reckless fashion.”

The unions staged a one-day strike May 23 over the BBC’s plans to save £355 million ($642 million) per year, which includes the job cuts.

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