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SLEEPING WITHTHE ENEMY; Shereen stays at home as boyfriend defies strike.

TV newsreader Shereen Nanjiani and boyfriend Mark Smith were on opposite sides of a picket line as staff at Scottish Television and Grampian TV went on strike yesterday.

As Shereen showed support for the strike by staying away from work, Smith crossed the picket line to help the skeleton staff prepare the day's news bulletins.

News veteran Smith - now head of Scottish Television's digital service - returned to his roots to do voice-overs for the day's news stories.

He and Shereen have been dating since the break-up of his marriage in 1995.

Last night Smith, who has two children from his marriage, was unavailable for comment on the couple's conflicting stance.

But one source said: "It will certainly be an interesting conversation over dinner."

Paisley-born Shereen started work at Scottish Television in 1983 after gaining a degree at Glasgow University.

Smith - a former pupil at Edinburgh's exclusive Fettes College - worked as a journalist for the BBC before joining STV and was later promoted to head of news.

Smith was moved sideways two years ago to take charge of a new state-of-the-art technology studio.

He was replaced by Paul McKinney, a former Labour spin doctor, who also defied strike calls to cross the picket line at the TV station's headquarters in Cowcaddens, Glasgow.

McKinney, 35, rejoined Scottish Television two years ago after quitting his pounds 40,000-a-year job as the Scottish Labour Party's communications director.

He had been head-hunted from STV to halt the SNP's rising profile but quit after eight weeks to return to the station where he was previously chief of news production.

Before that, McKinney worked for four years as an aide to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Some of Scotland's top broadcasters joined picket lines outside STV and Grampian studios across the country.

The Scotland Today and North Tonight evening news programmes were shelved and replaced by shorter bulletins throughout the day.

STV sports anchor Jim Delahunt and political presenter Bernard Ponsonby joined the official picket line.

STV golden girl Sarah Heaney, who is not a union member, also showed her support for the one-day strike by staying at home.

Grampian's usual on-screen presenters - Kirsten Gove, Sarah Mack and Norman MacLeod - joined their colleagues on the picket lines.

Deputy First Minister and Justice Minister Jim Wallace has also shown his support for the striking workers.

The Lib Dem leader refused to give a pre-recorded news interview to STV on Tuesday because it was due to be broadcast yesterday.

Journalists and production staff went on strike in a row with management over pay-cuts and redundancies.

Scottish Media Group want to slash the wages of 160 workers but unions fear those targeted may be made redundant.

Bosses have already called for the voluntary redundancies of seven staff programme directors.

Five have agreed to take a deal and two more workers in Aberdeen have been offered packages worth pounds 58,000. Union bosses are planning another walkout on April 6 if the issue is not resolved.

An insider at Grampian TV said: "There is a feeling of resentment towards SMG and what they are doing and we are out here today to let them now that we will not take it lying down. We have the support of the unions and most of us are willing to take this fight on."

Last night Donald Emslie, SMG's managing director of television, said: "The strike action has failed to have any significant effect on our television service.

"I appeal once more to the unions to put down the placards, remove the strike threats and return to the table."
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Author:Hardaker, Paul
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 30, 2000
Words:593
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