BBC strike called off after offer
Published 01/10/2010 | 13:02
A planned strike by thousands of BBC staff during next week's Conservative party conference has been called off after unions said they had received a "significantly improved" offer on pensions.
Journalists, technicians and other broadcast staff had been due to walk out on October 5 and 6 when the Tories were gathered in Birmingham, threatening disruption to the keynote speech by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the broadcasting workers' union Bectu, told the Press Association that an improved offer will now be put to a ballot of members.
Next week's strike has been called off, but there is the threat of industrial action later in the month if the deal is rejected.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband earlier called on BBC staff not to black out David Cameron's party conference speech by going on strike next week.
He said in the "interests of impartiality and fairness" the Prime Minister's speech should be broadcast on television and radio."
Some of the BBC's most prominent presenters, including Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman and BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, had warned over the timing of the strikes in a letter, stating that the move "risks looking unduly partisan".
Members of Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Unite had voted in favour of industrial action in protest at changes to their pensions.
Mr Morrissey said a strike planned for October 19 and 20 would remain until the ballot result was known, and unions had decided to add another strike date of October 25 and 26.
He said: "We have had a significantly improved offer from the BBC which we believe is the best that can be achieved through negotiation. If it is accepted, all the action will be called off, but if it is rejected, strikes will take place. We welcome the movement from the BBC."