Strike Ballot at Grampian and STV

Journalists at Scottish Television and Grampian Television are to vote on whether to take industrial action after rejecting a 2 per cent pay offer from Scottish Media Group.

In addition, the journalists have decided to vote on industrial action after management refused to backdate any pay rise.

A ballot has been opened by NUJ members at the television stations to decide whether to strike. The ballot closes next Friday.

The possibility of a strike has got SMG worried that the dispute could have a knock-on effect on its newspaper publishing business, which is in the process of being sold to Gannett.

As both arms of the company share the same building, management fears that any picket line set up by the broadcast journalists would also disrupt SMG Publishing, whose NUJ members would be loath to cross it.

The ballot also occurs at a time when Grampian TV is attempting to introduce desktop editing equipment into the organisation, which will mean even greater workloads for journalists, claimed Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish organiser.

Setting up the desktop editing will be disrupted if a pay agreement is not forged between management and staff, with an “embargo on the introduction of the new technology”.

“With the changes being brought in by Grampian TV, you’d have thought they’d consider sitting down to discuss a higher pay rise, because they won’t be able to get people to take more on without doing that,” he added. Holleran said the union was taking legal advice over the setting-up of picket lines.

The possibility of a strike comes at a particularly difficult time for the Scottish media giant, as the group this week announced a 28 per cent plunge in pre-tax profits to £26m and flat turnover of £278.4m, in the year to 31 December 2002.

By Wale Azeez

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