Unions call off strike at British broadcaster BBC

11th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The threat of further disruption to British broadcaster BBC's television and radio schedule was averted Thursday after journalists called off a strike planned for November 15 and 16.

Around 4,000 members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) carried out a 48-hour strike last week over planned pension scheme reforms, affecting flagship radio news programme "Today" and the "Newsnight" television show.

Another walk-out was due next Monday and Tuesday but instead talks were expected to take place between union representatives and the broadcaster.

"We are pleased the BBC has changed its position and agreed to talks," NUJ president Jeremy Dear said. "We will endeavour to reach a negotiated settlement."

Central to the ongoing row are the corporation's plans to reduce a pensions deficit of 1.5 billion pounds (2.4 billion dollars, 1.7 billion euros) by capping increases in pensionable pay.

BBC chief Mark Thompson said the cancellation of the strike was "very welcome news" but insisted the broadcaster would not be moved on its pension policy.

"It means we will be able to deliver our news and current affairs programmes and services to audiences here and around the world without interruption or loss of quality," Thompson said in an email to staff.

"The BBC has not changed its pension reform package in any way. We cannot afford to revisit the terms of the agreement we reached with the joint unions at the beginning of October and will not do so," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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