STV strike loom­ing amid fears sta­tion to be swal­lowed by ITV

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Rachel Wat­son Deputy Scottish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

STV staff are ex­pected to strike amid fears the broad­caster will be sold to par­ent com­pany ITV.

Jour­nal­ists and pro­duc­tion staff are to be bal­loted on in­dus­trial ac­tion next week, with sources say­ing the work­force will vote to walk out.

It fol­lows rev­e­la­tions that nearly 60 jobs are to be axed by the broad­caster, while the loss-mak­ing STV2 chan­nel will close less than a year af­ter launch­ing.

The Scottish Seven news bul­letin will also be scrapped af­ter fail­ing to at­tract view­ers.

Nicola Stur­geon has in­sisted she will op­pose STV be­ing sold to ITV.

Sources said yes­ter­day it was ‘very likely’ that staff will opt to walk out over the cuts and re­struc­tur­ing, which will see 59 lose their jobs.

One said: ‘Ev­ery­one is very an­gry and they want to make that known. Lots of peo­ple are about to lose their jobs – with some fac­ing com­pul­sory re­dun­dancy.’ There are two weeks in which staff can opt for vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy be­fore bosses will move to com­pul­sory cuts.

It is be­lieved work­ers are unim­pressed with the pack­ages be­ing of­fered and there are fears very few will ap­ply for vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy. A source said there were ru­mours within the firm that ITV could take over the Scottish com­pany, which could see news bul­letins pre-recorded and broad­cast from south of the Border. STV claims this is not the case.

How­ever, the First Min­is­ter ad­dressed the sug­ges­tions at Holy­rood yes­ter­day and urged bosses not to sell.

Miss Stur­geon said that some­one had raised the is­sue with her, adding: ‘That is not a move I would wish to see and I think that move would be op­posed and re­sisted by very many peo­ple across the coun­try.’

She also ex­pressed her con­cern over STV chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Pitts’s de­ci­sion to cut staff and channels in a bid to save £2mil­lion.

‘This will be a very wor­ry­ing time for all em­ploy­ees of STV who are af­fected by yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment,’ she said.

STV pre­sen­ters in­clud­ing John MacKay, Kelly-Ann Wood­ward and Ra­man Bhard­waj were among those

‘Ev­ery­one is very an­gry’

who at­tended a Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists’ meet­ing at the sta­tion’s Pa­cific Quay HQ in Glas­gow on Wed­nes­day af­ter news of the cuts.

Mr Pitts an­nounced the plans on Wed­nes­day – just months af­ter he joined the firm and was handed an £850,000 ‘golden hello’.

This com­prised a cash pay­ment of £187,000, with de­ferred shares val­ued at £666,000 to be drip-fed to him until 2021.

He claimed the shake-up was a ‘pos­i­tive’ step for the broad­caster and has blamed the BBC’s de­ci­sion to launch a BBC Scot­land chan­nel with a ‘Scottish Nine’ news bul­letin as part of the rea­son why STV has de­cided to scale back op­er­a­tions.

Scottish Lib Dem cul­ture spokesman Eileen McCartin said: ‘Hand­ing out more than £800,000 to a CEO whose first act is to slash staff looks like an act of supreme cal­lous­ness. It’s es­sen­tial we have a rig­or­ous and in­de­pen­dent news sec­tor to hold both of Scot­land’s Gov­ern­ments to ac­count.’

On pos­si­ble strike ac­tion, an STV spokesman said: ‘Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day of our three-year growth strat­egy for STV, we con­firmed to staff the com­mence­ment of a 30-day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

‘This is now un­der way to en­able us to ac­tively en­gage with col­leagues and unions on tak­ing for­ward our change pro­gramme.

‘We will con­tinue to lis­ten closely to the team’s con­cerns and ideas.’

Mean­while, Mr Pitts has in­sisted that there are no plans to sell STV.

He said: ‘Our sole fo­cus is on grow­ing STV through in­vest­ment in new orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming for Scottish view­ers, in our dig­i­tal ser­vice STV Player and in STV Pro­duc­tions, which we want to build into a world­class Scottish suc­cess story.’

An­chor­man: John MacKay

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