The BBC's £2bn sell off of its BBC Technology (BBCT) division to IT services firm Siemens received a double blow today from both BBCT staff and the government.
Broadcasting union Bectu told vnunet.com that it has notified the BBC that its members, who make up over a quarter of BBCT's 1,400 employees, will strike on 30/31 July and 13/14 August.
The dates seem designed to cause maximum disruption, coinciding with blue ribbon athletics and horse racing events at the end of July and the opening weekend of the Olympic Games.
BBC technology manages the corporation's broadcast engineering, satellite and desktop infrastructure services operations.
Bectu wants a three-year guarantee on the current terms and conditions, and is demanding staged pay increases at 2.5 per cent above inflation over the same period.
The BBC said in a statement: "The BBC can confirm that Bectu has given official notification that it intends to instruct its BBC Technology and News IT members to withdraw their labour.
"We are currently in final negotiations with Siemens Business Services for the procurement of a new Technology Framework Contract and sale of BBC Technology, and will continue to be in full consultation with Bectu during this time."
John Varney, head of technology at the BBC, said that the corporation has prepared contingency plans to ensure cover for affected areas should industrial action take place.
"We expect the impact [of a strike] to be slight. This is not long, protracted industrial action. These are pieces of short industrial action," he said.
"I am also responsible for broadcast continuity for the BBC, and we have plans in place, continuity plans in place, and a whole set of measures to prevent blank screens.
"We do not expect a problem with the Olympics or anything else. These are things that are set up days or weeks in advance, and a short stoppage by Bectu members would not disrupt output."
Varney added that talks with Bectu were still ongoing. "We believe we are not far away from Bectu's requirements and the deal we have done is very much in line with what Bectu wants for its members," he said.
Bectu has complained that consultation is being rushed through in time for the BBC's planned 1 September handover.
And in a further blow, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport stated that it will not begin to scrutinise the deal until 6 September, a week after the BBC's target handover date.
Additional reporting by Bryan Glick, Computing.
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