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Workers at BBC Technology are to be balloted again on strike action after Siemens, the company fingered to take over the operation on September 1, offered a new set of assurances for staff facing privatisation.

Staff had already voted overwhelmingly to strike following an earlier ballot this month over concerns about terms, conditions, job security, and pensions, if Siemens succeeds in buying BBC Technology and taking on its 1400 staff.

Yesterday, however, the union representing staff at BBC Technology, BECTU, received revised proposals concerning staff contracts. Despite this improved offer from Siemens, BECTU believes the proposals do not go far enough.

It recommends that members should reject Siemens' new package of proposals on the grounds that it "falls well short of the union's demands".

BECTU wants Siemens to offer "a three-year period of stability, with no changes in contracts and no compulsory redundancies, as well as the creation of a pension scheme that matched exactly the retirement benefits on offer from the BBC".

The union's decision to hold another ballot is designed to "head off any claim that the union called strike action without Siemens' most recent offer being put to members".

The BBC announced in November 2003 that it planned to flog its technology division. Since then, BECTU has campaigned against the move arguing that it would be bad news for workers and ultimately lead to job cuts. ®

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