Strike threat to Test Match

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THE BBC's live coverage of the First Test Match against South Africa today may be disrupted by a strike of 6,500 members of the broadcasting union, Bectu.

Test cricket is likely to be the first sporting event to suffer from a series of 24-hour stoppages planned by Bectu which will begin today despite yesterday's talks with the BBC management.

The BBC has scheduled all-day live coverage of the Test across both BBC1 and 2.

Disruption of coverage of the match at Edgbaston could be the beginning of a series of strikes which seem certain to affect the BBC's summer of sport, including preparations for its World Cup coverage.

Bectu expects the strike action to interfere with all live radio and television programmes today, but is specifically targeting high-profile sporting events.

This first day of action was chosen by Bectu to affect live coverage of the Test match and the setting-up of studios in Paris for the World Cup.

The shooting of location dramas, including EastEnders is also expected to be curtailed.

t Tube travellers in London are facing a summer of strikes after members of the RMT union voted for industrial action.

The planned action by 7,000 members of the RMT union, which could cause disruption from next Thursday, is in protest at the Deputy Prime Minister's scheme for partial privatisation for the system.

Despite assurances from John Prescott about employees' pay and conditions under the new regime, RMT members voted by more than five to one to take action.

Leaders of the union will decide today the precise timing of strikes, but they could begin in a week's time and are expected to cause considerable delays and cancellations.

It is understood that the stoppages would last a minimum of 24 hours.