ITV calls unions in for talks

BECTU and Amicus have been invited to meet ITV managers on Monday April 11, after a 36-hour strike by members.

The invitation, which was made during the stoppage, came with a promise that a new pay offer would be presented to negotiators.

Anglia members on the pavement in Norwich
Yorkshire TV out in force in Leeds

Unions had called the strike in main ITV production centres following the breakdown of talks on a 6% pay claim. Discussions foundered as managers stuck resolutely to a 3.3% offer which had been overwhelmingly rejected by members in a postal ballot.

Negotiators are now expecting to hear details of the new offer at a series of meetings on April 11, which will be followed by a meeting of representatives from each ITV site at 1400 on Tuesday April 12 in London.

Despite the re-opening of pay talks, unions do not plan to call off continuing industrial action in ITV, and a work-to-rule, coupled with early walk-offs on soap operas, will carry on until at least Tuesday. Plans for more industrial action starting on April 15 will also remain in place until stewards have assessed the new offer.

Anglia members on the pavement in Norwich
Anglia members striking in Norwich
However, as a good-will gesture, BECTU and Amicus will not announce new dates for industrial action, as originally planned.

Union officials welcomed the approach from management, which they believed was a direct result of solid support for the strike call on April 9 and April 10.

Shooting on Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and Heartbeat, was abandoned early on the first day of the stoppage, and members in the key production centres in London, Leeds, and Manchester, were supported with stoppages at Norwich, Birmingham, Nottingham, and ITV's Southern control centre in London.

Live programmes booked into ITV's LWT London Studios were also affected by strike action. One entertainment show Ant & Dec was pre-recorded earlier in the week by staff instructed to report for duty at short notice, preventing the unions from issuing legal strike instructions to them.

Efforts to transmit another live entertainment programme, Hit Me Baby One More time were marred by a serious accident when an independent lighting contractor fell through a trap-door on the set, which had been hastily moved to a BBC studio to avoid strike action.

The incident occurred after BBC safety representatives had inspected the studio during rehearsals, and issued an official warning that the absence of guard rails and kick-boards on the 2.5m high set posed a severe hazard to the mainly freelance crew working on the show.

10 April 2005