Strike vote at ITV as journalists reject redundancy terms

ITV journalists are to ballot for industrial action after rejecting the redundancy terms on offer as the company seeks to shed 40 per cent of its regional editorial staff.

Some 429 jobs are set to go in ITV’s regional broadcasting operation – out of a total of 1,075.

According to the National Union of Journalists more than half of those at risk are journalists. The union says it has ‘several hundred’members at ITV.

The rejected dundancy terms offered staff three weeks’ pay per year of service up to a maximum of £36,000, rising to £40,000 for those who volunteer to go.

Those who have been with the company for less than two years have been offered a month’s pay.

According to the NUJ, ITV management has rejected an offer to enter into formal conciliation with the union brokered by arbitration body Acas.

The union said it wanted “a fair deal for all those affected by the cuts – with improved voluntary redundancy terms and sufficient guarantees around working hours, pay and staffing in the new structure”.

NUJ broadcasting organiser Paul McLaughlin told Press Gazette: ‘It’s a pretty desperate situation when they are trying to get rid of 40 per cent of the staff.

“Our members feel they have always played fair by then company and feel desperately let down by a company that seems to be only interested in the balance sheet and impressing potential takeover bidders rather than doing what ITV does best – creating regional and national programming of quality.”

NUJ officials met broadcast regulator Ofcom last week to argue the case for protecting regional public service broadcasting.

ITV is scaling back its news commitments in the run up to a full digital switchover in 2012 when the benefits ff having a terrestrial TV broadcasting licence evaporate and the argument for a compulsory public service broadcasting commitment diminishes.

McLaughlin suggested that the ITV journalists being made redundant would be ideal candidates for the BBC’s proposed online regional video news network – and that Ofcom should find a way to better manage the transition.

The BBC says its new local video network, if approved by the BBC Trust, would require 300 journalists.

The postal ballot will open next Monday (10 November) and will close two weeks later on 24 November.

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