The BBC and unions remain at loggerheads over the broadcaster’s proposed pension cuts, as director general Mark Thompson warned staff this week that industrial action will have no effect.

Thompson is keen to minimise disruption to the broadcaster and told in-house magazine Ariel that any strike action would be futile. A meeting between BBC execs and unions to try to make progress on the issue has been pencilled in for 25 August.

“[Industrial action] will not provide any money to reduce the deficit, it won’t make any of the problems associated with the pension go away, it will not actually help BBC management, or encourage them in any concessions,” said Thompson.

But a Bectu spokeswoman said the union remained focused on securing a strong mandate for action to prove how aggrieved staff are.

“We believe that the BBC will be persuaded by the strength of feeling, which will come through the ballot results,” said the spokeswoman. “Mark Thompson talks about listening to his staff, and industrial action is one way that they can convey the strength of their feelings.”

She added that the two sides were still “a long way” from settling the issue.

The BBC has pledged to deliver amended proposals by early September, though it is not clear if this will happen before 9 September, which has been earmarked as a possible date for a strike.

Thompson also used his Ariel interview to underline the challenges facing the BBC over pensions. “This is tougher than some of the big redundancy programmes - it affects everyone,” he said.

“It will be tough and we didn’t expect that staff would be anything other than taken aback. I hope we are now in a process of dialogue. But however this plays out, in future staff will have to take more care of their own pension.”