ITV journalists told that leaving collections are banned

Journalists at ITV Tyne Tees have been told they cannot have collections or leaving presentations for colleagues losing their jobs – because there are too many of them.

More than 90 staff are being made redundant as part of changes which will see Tyne Tees merge with Border.

The cutbacks will leave little more than one third of the current number of staff working at studios in Gateshead and Billingham.

Morale is already said to be low but now a leaked memo from head of news Catherine Houlihan has provoked an angry response.

Management have already warned they will not be paying for a Christmas party, as in previous years.

The memo was put out in response to a colleague's email which was sent to newsroom staff telling them about a card that was being passed around for signing, along with a collection for three journalists who were leaving on the same day.

Houlihan sent an email which read: 'The sheer level of departures means we cannot do this or anything similar.

'Any farewell gestures should be done on an individual basis, and colleagues should not be presented with envelopes day after day. No one is rich at the moment and many people are facing an uncertain financial future.

'As a matter of policy, we should avoid group cards and collections and leave any informal arrangements to individuals."

It is believed at least one journalist complained about the email, which led to Houlihan putting out another memo.

It read: 'We are now entering arguably the most difficult phase of the selection process as people begin to leave the company and others hear their fates.

'I absolutely understand how difficult this is for everyone - both those leaving us and those staying on.

'I'm very sympathetic to efforts by staff to do something special for much-loved colleagues.

'However, I would like to remind all colleagues that we must continue as normal.

'To this end, there should be no on-screen goodbyes or tributes.

'There may be cases where we can make an exception but this must not happen without my involvement or approval.

'I know this may seem harsh but we will continue our programming next year and this must be as seamless as possible from the viewers' perspective."

An ITV spokesman said: 'There is not a blanket ban on leaving cards and collections.

'Previously, this was organised by middle management, but this is no longer the case.

'There have been many collections and cards arranged by work colleagues."

He said a subsequent email was sent to staff clarifying the new arrangements.

He added: 'There is a company-wide rule that there will not be any Christmas parties paid for by the company.

'Given the current economic climate, the decision was taken not to contribute, but staff are welcome to hold their own."

Staff who remain say the decisions have sparked bitter disappointment.

Tyne Tees TV employed more than 1,000 people in the 1980s, when famous shows such as The Tube were made at the studios in City Road, Newcastle.

The company has since suffered a series of redundancies as it was taken over by Granada and later ITV.

In 2005, staff were moved to a smaller building at The Watermark, near The MetroCentre, in Gateshead.

One worker said: 'Morale is absolutely rock bottom.

'By the time this is over, there will be just a few dozen employed in a fairly small building on an industrial estate.

'Many of those who've managed to keep their jobs are worried about the increased stress and workload after the redundancies.

'There's only going to be around one third of the workforce left and many of those will be younger, less-experienced people.

'Many of those who are leaving have been with the company for 20 to 30 years.

'It's sad that they can't even have a collection in the office – even just to raise a few pounds.

'Some of them have had little, unofficial leaving parties in small rooms away from the main newsroom."

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