Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Lords of ITV's Manor Need to Wise Up to Keep Its Workers Happy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Lords of ITV's Manor Need to Wise Up to Keep Its Workers Happy

Article excerpt

Byline: Gideon Spanier MEDIA

THERE's trouble below stairs at the home of Downton Abbey -- not that you'd know it from listening to the lords of the ITV manor. Chief executive Adam Crozier and chairman Archie Norman boasted at last week's annual meeting that they run Britain's "most watched" and "most loved" commercial broadcaster.

ITV's bosses deserve credit for riding the advertising recovery and expanding in programme-making outside the UK. The share price is up fivefold since 2012, profits have risen at a doubledigit rate for a fifth year, and the dividend jumped 46% last year. Oh, and employee pride is at "exceptional" levels, according to Norman, stressing ITV is a "people" business.

Yet not everything is perfect. ITV employees went on strike for the first time in a decade, on the day of the AGM and forcing the broadcaster to rearrange filming of Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Loose Women. Martin Lewis, Good Morning Britain's moneysaving expert, was among those who refused to work.

Members of staff from three unions, representing journalists, technical and production staff, are angry about a 2% pay offer when shareholders and management have got big rewards. The pay deal is lower than the 2.75% that staff received in 2014, and it lags behind commercial rivals. Channel 4 lifted pay 2.75% and Sky handed out 2.5% (3.5% for lower-paid staff ). ITV is now spending more on annual dividends for shareholders (about PS440 million) than wages for its 4,000-plus staff (PS374 million). Crozier and Norman say they treat staff well, noting a 2% rise is above inflation and the public sector. All employees got a PS1200 bonus last year and a quarter of them belong to ITV's share scheme that has soared in value because of the rising stock price. ITV's view is that the unions represent a minority. …

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