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STV journalists’ strike starts today

Journalists at STV are due to go out on strike today (Thursday March 28) after a ballot showed overwhelming support in favour of industrial action following the breakdown of pay talks at the Scottish broadcaster.

The strike day is set to be the first of a programme of disruption to STV’s news programming this spring and summer, with newsrooms set to empty across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is seeking a six per cent rise for members to keep pace with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. The company has offered this increase for the bottom three per cent of earners, saying it cannot afford to pay more for the remaining staff. The NUJ counters that STV made over £20m in profit on record revenues last year.

NUJ national organiser Nick McGowan-Lowe said: “Journalists at STV have not just been reporting on the cost-of-living crisis – they’ve been experiencing it too. 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.

“Simon Pitts, STV chief executive, was paid over £900,000 from the company last year – and only a small fraction of that would settle this dispute. He and the STV board needs to listen to members and come back to the table with a fair offer.”

The NUJ’s figures suggest that salaries for journalists at STV have fallen behind those paid in equivalent roles at the BBC or ITV, while about a third of newsroom staff, including experienced reporters, are earning less than the starting salary for a teacher,. Around 80 per cent of the newsroom earn less than a teacher with five years’ experience, says the union.

An STV spokesperson told Prolific North: “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.”

STV added that strike action would not affect the majority of its output, over 95%, which is sourced via the wider Channel 3 network, and that advertising on STV would be unaffected as there are currently no ad breaks during STV News at Six or Scotland Tonight.

It also noted that any ongoing strike action will not affect the channel’s coverage of UEFA Euro 2024 games starting in June, which “will be on air with full presentation and commentary as planned,” regardless of any NUJ action.

The NUJ has set a second strike day for Tuesday 16 April with “further industrial action expected if the situation cannot be resolved.”

STV holds the Channel 3 licence to cover Central and North Scotland, and is the only part of Channel 3 which is independent from ITV.

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