STV News journalists walk out on strike for second time in pay dispute

STV News journalists walk out on strike for second time in pay dispute

STV’s flagship news programme has once again been pulled from the schedule as journalists at the Scottish broadcaster strike for a second time in a row over pay.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at STV News walked out on Wednesday after rejecting the company’s latest pay offer.

The union workers previously took action in March amid a campaign for a 6% pay rise.

The fresh industrial action – which has seen journalists on the picket line at STV’s headquarters in Glasgow – disrupts news programming on the day the Scottish government faces a motion of no confidence at Holyrood.

The STV News at Six is to be replaced on the schedule by an episode of Sean’s Scotland, a show fronted by weather presenter Sean Batty.

The current affairs programme Scotland Tonight has also been removed from Wednesday’s schedule.

The strike coincides with the STV AGM – with representatives of the NUJ, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), and individual staff members expected to attend the meeting as shareholders to ask questions of the company board.

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Pic: PA

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) who work at STV take part in a picket outside their studios in Glasgow, after rejecting the company's latest pay offer. The strike coincides with the STV annual general meeting, and action will disrupt news programming, with the flagship STV News At Six due to be replaced by Sean's Scotland, and network programme Peston due to be aired in place of Scotland Tonight. Picture date: Wednesday May 1, 2024.
Pic: PA

STV said it was “disappointed” NUJ staff rejected the “enhanced offer”.

The broadcaster said it remains open to “further dialogue” but branded the union’s campaign “unrealistic and unaffordable”.

Journalist Chris Harvey, NUJ father of the chapel at STV North, told Sky News: “It’s exceptionally disappointing that NUJ members at STV feel they have no alternative than to take another day of strike action and take the news programmes off the air that we know viewers value so highly and we love to make for them.

“But STV management have disrespected the news operation and failed to meaningfully engage in talks to end this dispute.

“All members are asking for is a fair pay award to stop wages being further eroded by inflation. STV seem happy for their staff to endure a real-terms annual pay cut.”

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The NUJ workers were due to strike for a second time in April, but that was called off following last-minute talks and a new proposal.

The union staff have now rejected that offer, but other workers at the company have agreed a deal.

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.

STV generated record-breaking revenues of £168m in 2023, with an operating profit of £20.1m.

The broadcaster denied the NUJ’s claim that shareholder dividends had risen by 7%, insisting they remained flat in 2023.

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An STV spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that following discussions and an enhanced offer being made, members of the NUJ have decided to proceed with strike action on 1 May.

“We understand that almost half of NUJ members voted to accept the enhanced offer, which included a bonus payment for all STV staff.

“We remain 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.

“We have made clear that we will not agree a separate deal for NUJ members in excess of the award for all colleagues, and we maintain that our pay offer is both fair and financially responsible in the current economic climate.

“Alternative programming will be in place of news output.”