STV News bulletins to be axed from screens again as staff walk out in pay row

STV News at Six anchor John MacKay
STV News at Six anchor John MacKay -Credit:Daily Record

STV News bulletins will be axed from screens again as staff walk out for a second time amid the ongoing pay row.

Journalists will strike across Scotland on Tuesday, April 16, in the latest round of industrial action over pay. This is expected to cause cancellation and disruption to all STV News bulletins.

The journalists say they have had to use food banks, take on secondary jobs such as bar work or move in with parents in order to try and cover their bills. On Tuesday, staff will walk out of newsrooms for 24 hours in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness - as well as Westminster.

The NUJ is seeking a 6 per cent rise for members to keep pace with inflation after a record cost-of-living crisis last year.

The company - which recorded a £20m profit on record revenues last year - has offered this increase for the bottom 3 per cent of earners, but says it cannot afford to pay more to the remaining staff.

Kelly-Ann Woodland with fellow co-host John MacKay.
Kelly-Ann Woodland with fellow co-host John MacKay. -Credit:Daily Record

The NUJ chapel has also voted for a third day of action on Wednesday, May 1 to coincide with STV’s annual general meeting, when shareholders will be asked to approve a £664,167 pay package for Simon Pitts, STV chief executive.

Nick McGowan-Lowe , NUJ national organiser Scotland said “The STV board claim that stringy below-inflation pay rises for journalists are all they can afford, but when it comes to executive pay, there’s no such scrimping and saving. STV’s bulletins have been the most watched in Scotland for the past five years, outperforming the BBC, even though STV journalists are paid far less than their counterparts at the BBC or ITV.

“But at the top of the organisation, Simon Pitts expects his six-figure salary to be rubber stamped by shareholders, even while earning far more than the director general of the BBC, who runs an organisation 40 times bigger. Our members’ pay claim is reasonable and fair and STV needs to settle with us soon.”

During the last strike day on March 26, news bulletins and the flagship STV News at Six show were pulled off air.

One of the STV journalists said: “I have many years of experience in journalism and relevant qualifications, but I have had to take steps to look at obtaining secondary income through casual bar work. I’m a single-income household and now it is becoming a struggle due to the cost-of-living crisis and everything, the mortgage, insurance, food costs etc are all increasing while my wages are stagnant.

“More than 60 per cent of my income goes on covering my monthly bills every month, with little left at the end. I worked extremely hard to get to a position where I could buy my property, but I am now in a position where it is becoming difficult to afford. I live in fear of unexpected costs, or repairs, because I simply cannot afford them.

“I joined STV in the hopes of a lengthy career in the company which, from the outside, appeared to have ample job progression, but I feel I am coasting with no chance to really develop in an industry I have, for years, been incredibly passionate about. While I want to stay at STV, the lack of wage increases is making it difficult to find a reason to.”

Another journalist said: “We have been covering cost of living stories for two years, but it's happening to us as well. People look at us and expect us to be well paid, but we're not. By the by the end of the month I have zero pounds left. There is nothing once I’ve paid rent, bills, and council tax and that's before you've got your groceries and everything else.

“We work so hard and put in as much as possible every day, obviously, because we love our jobs, but they don't appreciate it. People leave and it is just, ‘Thanks very much and see you later.’. I have got family to fall back on and move back in with, but not everyone has that.”

An STV spokesperson told the Record: "With further talks scheduled to take place on Monday, it's disappointing that the NUJ's focus is on confirming further action rather than achieving a resolution. STV remains open to further dialogue but the NUJ's claim for an above inflation pay increase of 6% - nearly twice the current level of inflation - is unrealistic and unaffordable.

"In this 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, 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."

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