Euros kick off and pre-election coverage set to be hit by STV strikes

  • 27 Feb 2024

STV faces a summer of disruption as journalists working on STV News vote for industrial action over pay.

Potential strike action could affect coverage of news events up to mid-September, including the opening Scotland match against Germany at the Euros and a possible Westminster spring election, as well as the lunchtime and evening news bulletins.

Staff at the broadcaster, which has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, are returning voting papers for industrial action after last minute talks brokered by ACAS fell apart after the company refused to make an improved offer on pay.

A previous indicative ballot held by the National Union of Journalists showed 84 per cent of members were in favour of strike action on a turnout of 94 per cent.

The current pay offer represents an increase as low as 2.5 per cent for some staff and no higher than 6 per cent for lower earners after a year in which the inflation rate as measured by CPIH, the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs, was as high as 9 per cent.

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.

Between 2019 and 2022 STV made a total of £87.2m operating profit on total revenues of £513.2m and it expects to announce a £20m profit for 2023. In the past seven months it has gone on a spending spree, purchasing Greenbird Media for £21.4m in July 2023 and in January 2024 doubling its stake in Two Cities television to become a majority shareholder.

STV’s flagship bulletin News at Six has had a greater audience than every major BBC Scotland news programme for the past four years, as well as outperforming the ITV Evening News, News at Ten and Channel 4 News.

In March 2023 STV announced it had its best television viewing performance in almost two decades.

Nick McGowan-Lowe, the NUJ’s national organiser for Scotland said:

“STV News is Scotland’s most-watched news channel for the past four years in a row, and that is down to the talent, skill and hard work of our members in the newsrooms around Scotland.

“Without that award winning coverage, which allows STV to fulfil its public service obligations, STV wouldn’t be able to have secured the renewal of their channel 3 licence. It’s frustrating that after a year of reporting the impact of the cost of living on communities across Scotland that management are insisting that their own staff ‘s pay should be eroded by inflation at a time of increased costs for housing, electricity and food.

“The STV board can avoid costly and damaging strike action, as well as angering their loyal audiences who depend upon the broadcaster’s news coverage, by coming back to the table with a meaningful offer that shows they value the work of our hard-working members.”

NUJ members at STV last voted for industrial action in December 2022 when a last-minute deal by STV management avoided strikes.

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