STV journalists join picket lines outside offices during 24-hour strike

Pickets have been held outside STV offices in Scotland amid a 24-hour strike by journalists.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members at the broadcaster walked out in a row over pay and they plan another 24-hour stoppage next month if the dispute is not resolved.

No STV news bulletins are running, with the station’s flagship news programme STV News At Six being replaced by an episode of outdoors show Sean’s Scotland, fronted by weatherman Sean Batty.

The NUJ is seeking a 6% pay rise for members to “keep pace with inflation” during the cost-of-living crisis, and it claimed their salaries are less than equivalent roles at the BBC or ITV.

The union said STV, which is independent from ITV, offered the 6% increase for the bottom 3% of earners and claimed it cannot afford to pay more.

However STV said a proposal involving all staff receiving a bonus was rejected by the union, and the broadcaster described its offer as “fair”.

The issue was raised at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood on Thursday, with Labour’s Neil Bibby urging Humza Yousaf to encourage “meaningful negotiations, a fair deal for the journalists and an end to this dispute”.

First Minister Mr Yousaf said: “While it’s not for the Scottish Government to intervene directly into this dispute, I would absolutely urge STV to get round the table with their employees and the union to try and ensure a satisfactory outcome can be reached.”

He said this should happen “immediately” and would enable “a fair pay settlement for STV employees”.

Nick McGowan-Lowe, NUJ national organiser, said: “The First Minister’s intervention is welcome and it shows the importance of this dispute and the importance of STV coming back to the table with a sensible offer.

“There have been pickets at Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow, and in Edinburgh our members met MSPs outside Holyrood. We’ve had a really solid support.

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf urged STV to ‘get round the table with their employees and the union’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

“STV has closed down its news programming.”

He said some programmes being replaced by ITV Border will spark complaints.

Prior to the strike, he said: “Our members across Scotland produce the award-winning journalism that is the flagship of the STV brand and are only asking for their pay to keep track with inflation.”

A spokesperson for STV said: “We’ve continued to engage with the NUJ with the aim of finding resolution and we remain open to further dialogue, but their claim for an above inflation pay increase of 6% is unrealistic and unaffordable.

“In this current economic climate, the offer made is both fair and financially responsible and is already being paid to over 85% of our colleagues across the rest of the business, including news colleagues in the Bectu union who voted to accept the award.

“Our enhanced offer of this week, which included confirmation of a bonus for all STV employees – as we won’t agree a separate deal for NUJ members – was rejected by the NUJ.

“Contingency plans are in place.”