STV journalists are on the picket line outside the broadcaster’s head office as shareholders arrive for an annual general meeting (AGM).

Workers with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) are asking for a 6% pay rise in line with inflation – which they say “could be taken from chief executive Simon Pitt's salary and still leave him paid more than the director-general of the BBC”.

Pitt was paid £738,000 in 2023, £949,000 in 2022, and £1.33 million in 2021, according to the STV's annual accounts.

BBC chief Tim Davie was paid £527,500 in 2022-2023, up from £494,000 the previous year.

The NUJ previously said that Wednesday’s AGM would see STV shareholders asked to approve a new pay packet for Pitt which again outstrips Davie’s.

@scotnational STV journalists on the picket line as shareholders descend on head office for an AGM #strikes #stv #scottishmedia ♬ original sound - The National

In a letter to shareholders, striking journalists said: “Today is the second time that the company's inaction will take STV News programmes off air and almost all of the website news stories won't be published.

“We don't take this action lightly. This is the first strike action taken by STV journalists in 25 years. We are serious and committed staff who care about the news programmes we produce.

“We are certainly not militant or unconcerned with the economic challenges faced by commercial broadcasters. This is a newsroom that has accepted pay freezes more than once in recent years, when we have recognised challenging economic conditions.

“This year is different – reflecting the real struggles the journalists who have produced the top rated Scottish news programme for the last five years have in living their lives.

“In the newsrooms there are colleagues having to use food banks, having to have second jobs to make ends meet, unable in some cases to afford to get a mortgage, and having to choose not to get married. We are asking for a reasonable pay increase which leaves us no worse off after a year of record inflation and cost of living increases last year.

“This is not an unaffordable or unreasonable request. The NUJ estimates that the modest cost of settling the pay dispute for the newsroom – around £107,000 – could be taken from chief executive Simon Pitt's (below) salary and still leave him paid more than the director-general of the BBC.”

The National:

Recognisable faces including STV political editor Colin Mackay were present on the picket line.

Speaking from the protest, NUJ national organiser Nick McGowan-Lowe told The National: “We’re down here with the newsroom from STV News and we’re out here today outside the headquarters in Glasgow because today is the AGM of STV shareholders.

“We’re really disappointed that we’re having to go on strike again but also take our message directly to the shareholders, directly to the board, and directly to the chief executive.

“This is a pay dispute that is easy to resolve. I think the board should recognise that and I think top management should recognise that.

“We shouldn’t have to be out here again asking for a pay rise that keeps pace with inflation.”

READ MORE: STV journalists balloted for summer strike action over pay

An STV spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that following discussions and an enhanced offer being made, members of the NUJ have decided to proceed with strike action on May 1.

“We understand that almost half of NUJ members voted to accept the enhanced offer, which included a bonus payment for all STV staff.

“We remain open to further dialogue but the NUJ’s claim for an above-inflation pay increase of 6% – nearly twice the current level of inflation – is unrealistic and unaffordable.

“We have made clear that we will not agree a separate deal for NUJ members in excess of the award for all colleagues, and we maintain that our pay offer is both fair and financially responsible in the current economic climate.

“Alternative programming will be in place of news output.”

The broadcaster also denied that shareholder dividends had risen by 7%, insisting that dividends had remained flat in 2023.

This will be the second day of strike action in this dispute, following a walkout by STV journalists in March that saw a demonstration at the Scottish parliament attract cross-party support.

A further strike day in April was called off following last-minute talks between the two sides, but Wednesday’s walk-out comes after staff with the NUJ voted to reject the company’s latest pay offer.