STAFF at the broadcaster STV are to ballot for industrial action in an attempt to get the company rethink plans to axe nearly 60 jobs and close loss-making digital channel STV2.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted unanimously for a ballot yesterday, which could see support for the first strikes at the company in many years. However the 30 day consultation period over redundancies means it will be a race against time for the workers.
An STV insider said employees had been left with no option: “The management are completely restructuring our news output but we don’t even have a head of news at the moment. There is a great strength of feeling over this.
“This is corporate greed, just like the stories we report on about BHS or Carillion. Directors place more importance on profits for shareholders than on the welfare of their employees or the quality of the products.”
Previous head of news Gordon MacMillan is understood to have left because he was not prepared to implement the proposed changes. Staff are worried the changes will make STV more attractive for a takeover by ITV.
NUJ Scottish Organiser John Toner said a ballot would be held as soon as possible. Staff wanted clarity about the exact nature of the proposals and whether those at risk of losing their jobs would be offered redeployment at a meeting with management on Friday morning, he added.
Asked at First Minister’s Question time about the possibility of STV being sold to ITV, Nicola Sturgeon described the situation as “very worrying.” But Ross Greer MSP, Culture & Media spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said STV’s plans were an indictment of a Scottish Government’s scheme to promote fair work practices. “The Business Pledge is clearly a joke if it includes a company that shovels grotesque amounts of money towards its chief executive while allowing the sacking of hard-working frontline staff.,” he said.
An STV spokesperson said consultation with staff was now underway. “We will continue to listen closely to the team’s concerns and ideas,” she added.