Strike vote underway in ITV

BECTU members at several ITV sites across the country are being balloted for industrial action over a 3.3% pay offer.

The union's branches in London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Norwich, Birmingham, and Nottingham backed the call for a ballot, and voting papers began arriving at members' homes late last week (March 5). BECTU's ballot closes on March 23, by when Amicus members will also have had an opportunity to vote on the pay offer in their own separate ballot.

"Ballots for industrial action are taking place because members believe that the company is continuing to give them a raw deal. A pay rise which barely keeps pace with inflation is simply not credible; the company has exceeded its targets in terms of cost-cutting and projections for advertising revenue are strong", explained BECTU official Sharon Elliott.

"Hundreds of jobs have been cut in ITV's first year, the company has succeeded in off-loading some of its PSB responsibilities, and it is expected that savings will also be made on its licence fees. When will the thousands of staff who are contributing to the company's operational success be rewarded fairly?", she continued.

In the past five years earnings at Granada/Carlton have fallen short of inflation by up to 2.6 %; the difference between rises at the company and average earnings over the same period is even more stark at 19.2%. The unions claimed an increase of 6% for the 12 months from January 2005; the company has offered 3.3 per cent.

A union claim for a minimum salary of £14,600 outside London was met by the company with an offer of a £13,500 minimum which by the company's own figures will only benefit approximately 100 people. ITV has insisted that trainees, apprentices, runners and entry grade staff - precisely those whom the unions are seeking to help - will not be covered by the minimum salary.

The ballot for industrial action has drawn support from a number of ITV sites, including those responsible for the company's core output. Staff in Manchester, home of Coronation Street, and in Leeds, home of Emmerdale and Heartbeat, are taking part in the ballot. Staff in London, the heart of the company's studios business, and transmission operations are also participating in the vote.

"BECTU is urging its members to vote yes to industrial action. Once again the company has adopted a cynical approach to the unions' joint pay claim and staff are keen to press that claim through this vote", said Elliott.

ITV's first year of business as a merged company has been headlined by job losses in network and regional programme making. Four hundred jobs alone have been cut in the Midlands and Southampton and more cuts are being proposed now in Manchester, Yorkshire, Southampton and Plymouth thanks to ITV's successful lobbying of Ofcom.

In Norwich the main TV studios have been mothballed with the further loss of almost 20 jobs, after ITV failed to agree new terms for Trisha. Promises of a new network show for ITV Anglia have yet to materialise.

Against a background of continued cuts in staffing to get the company fit for merger, post-merger staff are experiencing still more of the same, as well as attacks on staff terms and conditions and pension provisions.

"Tomorrow the company announces its first full year of results which should make good news for the City. ITV staff deserve to share in that good news not just in the company's PR announcements but in their pay packets", concluded Sharon Elliott.

8 March 2005