The contention between ITV Meridian and journalists over a campaign for extra duties such as desktop editing to be included in a new job description, has turned into a fullblown official dispute.
The NUJ claims management refused to acknowledge a new status for the affected reporters. Union officials were set to meet on Friday to discuss the next move.
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“Management is saying ‘it’s just an extension of what you do’. We’re saying it’s a wholesale change to the way we work – it’s a major new skill,” a local NUJ official said. “We are not saying we are against it, we just want it recognised as new jobs, so anyone who doesn’t fancy it would be entitled to redundancy.”
He claimed that under the company’s proposals, staff would not be entitled to redundancy if they did not wish to desktop edit in their “new” positions.
Meridian controller of regional programmes Mark Southgate previously said: “We have indicated that it is our belief the reporter job, while taking on additional responsibilities such as editing, remains a reporter job. The core responsibilities of that role remain as they have always been.”
The breakdown between management and staff comes after both parties recently agreed on a reduction in the number of trainee broadcast journalist posts from eight to five, reinstatement of a deputy news editor post previously earmarked for redundancy and retention of a sports presenter post in the “Maidstone subregion”.
Meridian management has also revealed it will add the timings for bulletins and live programmes to the list of duties of editorial staff – currently a production assistant role.
One journalist who would be affected by the changes said: “I think that’s a big problem – potentially causing a massive headache subbing busy bulletins, cutting late packages, responding to breaking news and making cuts when we’re running over time. And I’d be particularly concerned about requirements for looking after live broadcasts.”
By Wale Azeez