Journalists at STV on strike again in dispute over pay

  • 12 Apr 2024

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.

Journalists at STV will be on strike across Scotland for the second time on Tuesday 16 April, in the latest round of industrial action over pay, which is expected to cause cancellation and severe disruption of all STV news bulletins.

The NUJ chapel voted for a third day of action on Wednesday 1 May to coincide with STV’s annual general meeting. That is when shareholders will be asked to approve a £664,167 pay package for Simon Pitts, STV chief executive. His current pay package is 40 per cent higher than that of Tim Davie, BBC director general.

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 has offered this increase for the bottom 3 per cent of earners, saying it cannot afford to pay more for the remaining staff despite making over £20m in profit on record revenues last year.

Nick McGowan-Lowe, NUJ national organiser Scotland said:

“The STV board claim that stingy 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 explained:

“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 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.”

A third added that they had taken a pay cut to join the broadcaster because they had always wanted to work for STV and believed there would be a wealth of opportunity: "However, I have learned during my time with the company that pay rises are extremely infrequent,” they said, “and there is very little transparency around pay progression. Last year I had a mortgage offer fall through as a result of the rates going up while my salary remained low at a time of rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. For someone like me who wants to have a long career in journalism, it's increasingly looking as though that will not be possible at STV if I also want to have a decent standard of living." 

Points of action

GLASGOW: there will be a picket line from 9am at STC HQ Pacific Quay.

DUNDEE: The STV members will be outside the Caird Hall, where the second day of the STUC annual congress is taking place, with a photocall during the lunch break.  

How you can support the stikers

  • Post a message of solidarity on Instagram, X or Facebook using #NUJSTVStrike - Tag @nujofficial and we’ll repost.
  • Email [email protected] with a message of solidarity for journalists.
  • If you are local call on your nearest picket line.
  • Donate to the hardship fund.

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