MORE than 500 telephone engineers in the North-East are expected to take part in a 24-hour strike from midnight on Sunday over a controversial new performance bonus system.

Members of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) are taking part in national action against BT's introduction of Self Motivated Teams (SMTs).

CWU officer Ian Cuthbert said: "It is in everyone's interest that this management scheme to divide us is dumped.

"Industrial action is the only way we can make them listen because we have tried everything else."

BT sites in Hartlepool, Redcar and Thornaby will be picketed as well as other sites in the North-East.

A spokesman for BT said: "We are disappointed that the CWU has chosen to pursue this industrial action and appeal for them to re-enter talks with the company rather than embarking on this futile strike."