Workers and unions at ITV have responded angrily to the broadcaster’s plans to axe 600 jobs – some 15 percent of the workforce.
ITV also plans to close a studio in Leeds, cut drama production and sell the Friends Reunited social networking website which a previous management bought for £120 million just three years ago.
ITV worker and Bectu union member Phil Windeatt spoke to Socialist Worker about the planned cuts. “People are shocked and shaken,” he said. “For some departments it’ll be devastating – 128 jobs will go in my building alone.
“It is true that there has been a fall in advertising revenue. Management also say they are hindered by broadcasting restrictions, such as a commitment to public service broadcasting.
“But these are just things that management are hiding behind.
“ITV has spent millions investing in poor choices such as the Friends Reunited website and the Ask Jeeves search engine. They didn’t see the new age of digital TV coming. And management is running down regional television even though it has always been popular.
“We know what happens – it’s us that are going to pay for their mistakes.
“We are now at the very start of a 90 day consultation period. Union membership has grown since the news came out.
“In 2005 we held a successful two-day strike that management didn’t think we could pull off. We managed to shut down the studios then plus the production of Coronation Street and Emmerdale – ITV’s big hits. We had the electricians onside so health and safety meant the studios were shut down.
“The Amicus, now Unite, and Bectu unions worked together last time, and we’ll have to do it again if we want to stop the cuts.
“Those made redundant will have to go freelance – but I know in my field there is little or no work out there.”