Strike ballot for transmission members

BECTU members working in transmission for television, radio and the emergency services are to vote on industrial action.

The 550 members of the broadcasting union BECTU are employed in the broadcast division of telecoms and transmission company ntl.

Today they voted overwhelmingly to reject changes to terms and conditions of employment which could cost some members up to £4,000 a year in salary, in addition to more unsociable working, leading to a deterioration in members' work/life balance. 85% of BECTU's membership voted in the ballot, with 78% voting against the company's proposals.

Members will now be balloted for a campaign of industrial action. The ballot papers will be distributed to members on 2nd March, with the ballot closing on 22nd March.

BECTU's members provide a transmission service for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, commercial radio including Classic FM, and digital TV and radio services. They also provide a significant part of the radio communications for the emergency services: fire, ambulance and police (including the Metropolitan Police), across the country.

BECTU National Official David Beevers commented: "We have tried to constructively negotiate with the company. However, it has become clear that the company will only be happy if members are prepared to accept significant reductions in pay and a general deterioration in their terms and conditions. This cannot, and will not be acceptable to the union and its membership."

This will be the first industrial action within the company for over 20 years, and will have major repercussions for the company which has had serious financial problems in recent years.

BECTU General Secretary Roger Bolton said: "We believed that ntl had turned the corner financially, after many difficult years. During those years our members have supported the company through these difficult times and suffered significant job losses. Not satisfied with this, the company now wish to take away their right to proper payments for unsociable working and the right to a family life outside of ntl. Our members have shown in this ballot their determination to resist these draconian measures."

20 February 2003