SMG refuses to increase salaries for multiskilling

Negotiations between the NUJ and management of the Scottish Media Group over the introduction of desktop editing equipment into the newsroom at Grampian Television have broken down. SMG had refused to increase journalists’ salaries to match the multiskilling demanded of them.

The union had been campaigning against SMG’s plan to introduce desktop editing systems to Grampian TV newsrooms without consultation since last year, fearing it would mean even greater workloads. The NUJ threatened to disrupt the implementation if a pay agreement was not forged with an “embargo” on the introduction of the new technology.

A meeting to negotiate details of the introduction of newsroom desktop editing was scheduled for last Wednesday, when journalists had expected an “encouraging” package, that would include additional support staff to take up some of the extra burden on journalists, as well as a pay rise commensurate with their new multitasking roles.

SMG management decided to retain six of the 14 videotape editing jobs initially marked for redundancy to support the journalists, but flatly refused to agree to a pay increase.

The NUJ will now call for a ballot to boycott the introduction of desktop editing until the union “sees some movement” from SMG management.

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scotland’s organiser, said: “We are a bit surprised that it’s now ground to a halt given the level of progress we’ve made so far.

“When the BBC introduced multi-skilling with its videojournalists, it raised wages accordingly.”

Meanwhile, journalists at Scottish TV and Grampian TV have finally accepted a two-year pay deal of 2.5 per cent in the first year and 3 per cent from January 2004. Holleran said the deal amounted to increases of 22 per cent “for at least 60 people” at the group.

By Wale Azeez

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