NUJ resumes Meridian talks…

Talks between the NUJ and ITV Meridian are back on the agenda, after an official dispute was called off last week.

According to the union, the main point of dispute had been the broadcaster’s unwillingness to consider new job descriptions for roles that incorporate extra duties and skill requirements such as desktop editing.

“The company has been left in no doubt about the anger and distress caused by its decision to ignore our recommendations and go ahead with the publication of job pools and salary bands,” the NUJ said in a statement announcing the end of dispute.

“There will be further meetings about the way the consultation period is handled and the way information is handed out in future. This allows us to move on to define the new roles within the company prompted by the move to Whitely.”

A local NUJ representative at Meridian’s Kent studios said: “We’ve now begun discussions on new roles, old roles and any modifications. But there are still obviously lots of issues to be resolved.”

A Meridian spokeswoman said the company “has reiterated that its definitions of roles as either new or existing are a starting point for discussion.

Staff protested at closure of Central studios

That discussion will now continue.”

Another sticking point between editorial staff and management was resolved when the company finally agreed to consider opening up voluntary redundancy to all, scrapping this week’s deadline for applying for redundancy and jobs.

One of the key demands by the NUJ when jobs are at stake is that all affected members are offered voluntary redundancy. Before the dispute was resolved some members would have been facing compulsory job losses.

“We said to them that if you open it up to all, there might well be some reporters who would be willing to take voluntary redundancy and therefore you wouldn’t have to sack anybody.

Which would solve a dilemma and perhaps prevent us from going into dispute in the future,” said an NUJ representative.


… and agrees deal with ITV Carlton

The NUJ and ITV Carlton have agreed severance terms for journalists who will lose their jobs when the Central News East Midlands newsrooms and studios close down and the operation is moved to Birmingham.

Following a consultation meeting this week, the company agreed “without prejudice” to pay one-off awards of up to 50 per cent of what staff would receive in lieu of notice.

“So that means six weeks’ money if you were entitled to three months’ notice,” an NUJ representative at Carlton in Nottingham told Press Gazette.

He added: “The deal is the best of a bad job. There are all kinds of problems we’re going to run into now over the job descriptions, multiskilling and understaffing.”

Meanwhile, staff in Bristol and Cardiff were bracing themselves for possible redundancies after ITV split its former HTV West and Wales region, leading to the announcement that Jeremy Payne, the current group managing director for ITV Wales and ITV West, was to step down.

ITV West will now merge with ITV Westcountry under its managing director, Mark Haskell. He will join the board of ITV Wales and West and a managing director will be also appointed for ITV Wales.

Elis Owen, controller and director of programmes for the region will become acting managing director in the interim.

By Wale Azeez

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