A STRIKE which was due to black out ITN news programmes was put on ice this week. Management offered last minute concessions over plans for new shifts which would wreck workers' lives. But union leaders refused to recommend the new offer at a 300 strong mass meeting of TV workers on Tuesday. They said the strike could go ahead if a new ballot due to end on 9 February rejects it.
Workers are furious over management's plans, which are part of the London-based ITN company's drive to make workers pay for a move towards becoming a 24 hour news channel. A strike ballot produced massive majorities for action. The new shifts are part of the push for ever more "flexible" working by bosses and New Labour that millions of workers know all too well. ITN management want staff to work nights, switch between all sorts of soul destroying shifts and work weekends. It could mean someone working from 4.30 in the morning through to 11am for several days. They could then be switched to a midday to midnight shift.
With many staff travelling long distances from outside London the result could be horrendous disruption to people's lives. New Labour talks of family friendly policies, but many of the key workers at ITN are women with children whose lives will be turned upside down by the new shifts. The concessions offered to avert this week's planned 24 hour strike by members of both the BECTU technicians' and NUJ journalists' unions show that management are worried over the impact that any strikes could have. But they do not resolve the fundamental issues or the disruption to people's lives the new shifts would cause. Workers should throw the offer out, and push ahead with strikes to force the company to back down.