Strike avoided at SMG as 55 go voluntarily

By Hamish Mackay

Industrial action has almost certainly been averted at Scottish Media Group as the company looks set to achieve the 55 jobs cut it seeks through voluntary redundancy and redeployment.

However, Scottish Television, which, along with Grampian Television, comes under the SMG umbrella, is losing some of its best-known presenters and journalists.

Prime-time news anchors on Scotland Today — Shereen Nanjiani (pictured) and Sarah Heaney, and sports presenter, Jane Lewis — are departing, plus business editor Alan Saunby, and Glasgow-based husband-and-wife team of reporters Matt Bingham and Becky Hunter.

SMG intially sought 59 job cuts across the group including 14 news and current affairs staff. This has now been reduced to 55 and the target of 14 journalistic jobs is likely to be lowered.

The departure of Nanjiani, 44, a mainstay of the station’s output, has taken the industry by surprise. She told Press Gazette: “I’ve had a brilliant 22 years at Scottish TV, but with all the current changes in the Scottish media landscape I feel its time to move on and carve out new opportunities.” She joined Scottish TV in 1983 and the Scotland Today team in 1987.
Heaney, 35, has worked at Scottish TV for eight years, and Lewis, 34, for seven.

The presenters and journalists are taking advantage of generous severance packages – reported to be three weeks per year plus notice period, or four weeks plus notice for those with over 20 years’ service or aged over 50.

The trade unions have agreed to look into how the redundancies will impact on the workload of the remaining staff.

Paul Holleran, Scottish organiser of the NUJ, welcomed the way the changes had been handled avoiding compulsory redundancies.

He said: “We are particularly glad that there are fewer going from the newsroom than SMG was originally looking at.

“SMG Television is reorganising due to the reduction in its licence commitments, alongside the impact of new technology resulting from the forthcoming move to new state-of-the-art studios at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, later this year.”

An SMG spokeswoman said: “Following a productive consultation period, the reduction in headcount will now be 55 rather than 59. We will be working with the unions to achieve this on an agreed basis.” Donald Emslie, chief executive of SMG Television, said: “The process we are going through is necessary to enable SMG Television¹s success to continue in an increasingly competitive multi-channel environment. Exercises like this are never easy but I¹m pleased that we are on our way to achieving what is needed essentially through volunteers.”

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