Broadcast members plan action at ntl:

BECTU members working for communications giant ntl: are due to start industrial action on March 31 over new terms and conditions.

The action, which includes an overtime ban and withdrawal of out-of-hours cover by more than 500 union members, will affect ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and commercial radio transmitters across the UK, as well as emergency services like the Metropolitan Police, who use ntl: to provide their radio communications facilities.

In a ballot of 537 BECTU members at ntl:, a record 80% voted, of whom 78% called for action short of a strike in protest at changes to pay and conditions that could cut earnings by up to £4,000 each. In the same ballot almost 74% of members voted for a full-blown strike.

The last industrial action among ntl: staff was more than 20 years ago, when the company was owned by the now-defunct Independent Broadcasting Authority.

A meeting of BECTU representatives from ntl: this week voted to go ahead with industrial action, and set up an action team which will oversee precise details of the protest.

BECTU National Official David Beevers said: "I want to thank all Broadcast members for this tremendous ballot result which confirms the support we have from our members. Action will commence as planned next week.

"It is regrettable that we have reached a point where we have to commence action, and BECTU remains committed to finding a negotiated settlement which preserves the interests of members and the business going forward."

26 March 2004