Olympics could be hit by BBC strike action

Thousands of BBC staff are to be balloted on strike action in a row about jobs, pay and conditions, raising the threat of disruption to flagship shows – and possibly coverage of the 2012 Olympics.

Technicians, journalists and other employees will vote from 4 November on whether to take industrial action. The BBC unveiled plans earlier this month to cut 2,000 jobs and make changes to staff terms and conditions to make savings of 20 per cent, worth £670m a year by 2016-17.

The corporation has held talks with Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Unite on the changes, but no agreement has been reached. The ballot result will be known on 24 November, so strike action could start in early December. Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey warned that shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC's Sports Personality Of The Year could be hit. Union sources said next year's Olympics could be targeted if the dispute is not resolved.