Industrial action by BBC radio outside broadcasts engineers - due to start this Thursday - could impact on the BBC's Olympics coverage, Bectu has revealed.

The specialist team of radio engineers work on key events resourced from London. Almost half of the 23-strong group are currently on assignment in Beijing and will be covered by the industrial action mandate.

Of the staff affected, 78% voted in favour of strike action. The action is in pursuit of a long-standing pay and regrading claim.

Broadcasting union BECTU served the BBC with formal notice of continuous industrial action last week.

The action will place strict limits on the amount of flexibility staff are willing to offer:

  • shifts over 12 hours long will stop;

  • staff will insist upon at least an 11-hour break between turns of duty;

  • staff will refuse to work more than six days out of seven;

  • hours in excess of 160 in a four week period will be refused.

Staff are seeking an agreement with the BBC which will reward staff, in terms of both pay and grading, whether they are at an early stage in their careers, experienced or more senior members of the team.

A spokesperson for Bectu said: "The dispute arises because this skilled group of staff have seen their responsibilities and workload increase without pay and re-grading to deliver the reward and recognition which they deserve.