Draft motion 1: The union’s name

This DM recognises that the name, the National Union of Journalists, is problematic on two counts:

1. The union has not been a national union since 1922 when the Irish Free State became a separate country.

2. Many people eligible for membership do not consider themselves journalists.

The DM therefore instructs the NEC to amend the rules to change the union’s name to simply the NUJ.

Proposed by: Donnacha DeLong.

The #MeToo motion at DM2018

The branch’s #MeToo motion to the NUJ’s Delegate Meeting was amended and added to by numerous branches, this is what was passed at DM2018:

Composite E (covering motions 45, 46 and amendments)
This DM notes that women are still misrepresented, objectified, humiliated and sexualised in sections of the media. Stereotypes still apply. Victim blaming still occurs when reporting violence against women including harassment. Women employed in the media are also victims of discrimination and inequality.

DM notes that the #MeToo social media campaign has allowed hundreds of women who have suffered from sexual assault around the world to open up about their experiences in atmosphere of mutual support and solidarity.

DM also notes, while having concerns about trial-by-media, the positive role played by social media in providing an environment for openness about sexual harassment and assault that had previously been suppressed.

DM also notes that allegations of sexual abuse and the silencing of those affected have been on-going within large media organisations for years now.

This DM welcomes the call by the General Secretary of the ICTU that complaints of sexual harassment should be explicitly covered as a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

DM notes that the Code of Practice on Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Declaration) Order 2015 covered harassment but does not make specific reference to sexual harassment in the workplace.

DM calls on the Irish Government to initiate a review of the Code of Practice consistent with the proposal put forward by the ICTU.

This DM reaffirms the union’s commitment to zero tolerance of all forms of harassment in the workplace and instructs the NEC to promote greater awareness of the pernicious nature of gender based harassment, as part of the union’s trade union training programme.

DM welcomes the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project in Scotland, carried out by the National Union of Journalists, with support from the Scottish Government via the STUC, and hopes that it will be possible to find ways of continuing and expanding this vital work on enhancing the role of women in journalism and the media and how women are still misrepresented.

This DM instructs the NEC to seek to build on the success of the project not just in Scotland but throughout the union by:

  1. Exploring new ways to engage with women providing them with opportunities to come forward with complaints of sexism and harassment in our industry, share their experiences, and expose abusers;
  2. Fighting back and calling out examples of poor treatment of women by the media;
  3. Working with media organisations to build systems of support for their staff who come forward and to develop a system to support our freelance members who have been harassed or abused;
  4. Supporting women who find themselves on the receiving end of sexism, discrimination and harassment, whether in the workplace or by the media;
  5. Pressing for all sectors of the media to adopt responsible reporting standards demonstrating respect for women, eliminating objectification, sexualisation, victim blaming and unjustified personal attacks;
  6. Pushing for greater diversity in all newsrooms with intersectional representation and more women to smash the glass ceiling and fill a greater proportion of senior editorial roles to ensure the media is better representative of all society;
  7. When reporting women, encouraging the media to focus on the ideas, abilities and achievements of women rather than their appearance, personal life and how they dress;
  8. Exploring ways in which women members can achieve a stronger public voice in arguing for better representation of women in the media and by the media.
  9. Requesting the Ethics Council to encourage stronger adherence to the Code of Conduct with specific reference to Clause (9)
  10. Support #MeToo and other online campaigns to expose endemic sexual abuse in media organisations and other businesses including Trade Unions and other membership organisations.

DM also instructs the NEC to draw up a code of conduct for paid and lay officials that would help to create a climate that would eradicate sexual harassment, and which might also serve as a model for chapels to adopt.

DM further instructs the NEC to work with the health and safety committee and equality council to promote health and safety awareness and training so that NUJ councils, committees, branches and chapels are sufficiently knowledgeable of the relevant legislation to put in place measures (in addition to robust house agreements) that can help prevent harassment and provide recourse should it occur.

All our other motions, except for the motion on Membership (which was accidentally missed off the list of motions we confirmed) were passed without amendment (see previous posts).

Members can read all the motions passed at the Delegate Meeting on the NUJ website.

The NUJ and Buzzfeed – Vote yes

NUJ members and other staff at Buzzfeed are voting on whether or not the NUJ should be the recognised trade union for some staff. The members have gone through an extended process with the Central Arbitration Committee to seek recognition.

One part of the process was to define the specific “bargaining union” – those workers who would fall under NUJ recognition. Frustratingly for some of our members, those journalists with US reporting lines were excluded. Included are the editorial staff working on the News and Buzz and staff supporting editorial work on the service desk with UK reporting lines. The full documentation from the process makes interesting reading.

Another factor that has influenced the process was the staff cull at the start of the year. The NUJ criticised the lack of consultation when the company decided to make 23 editorial roles redundant. Fewer journalists means fewer people taking part in the ballot.

Because of the relatively small numbers involved, every vote counts. One or two votes either way could decide the issue.

There are a couple of things that I think members at Buzzfeed should think about. The first is to put to bed the management myth that the NUJ “are not used to innovative, digital workplaces…” (as Vice EMEA chief executive, Matt Elek, said in 2016). On the contrary, apart from organising the web departments of major employers like the BBC, Guardian, RTÉ and the Irish Times since the end of the ‘90s, back in 2005, the NUJ went through a similar recognition process at AOL UK (then part of Time Warner).

Time Warner was very much an anti-union company and fought tooth and nail in CAC to block recognition. They failed. Almost immediately, the management attitude changed and they started working with the union. When cuts came down from on high (also known as the US), management and the union often came together to reduce their impact.

That’s the second thing to consider. Unionising a workplace changes the dynamic in the workplace. While the power is never equal, organised workers rebalance things more than a little. As a US-owned company, London-based management are likely to experience the same kind of top-down orders as AOL UK did ten years ago and management will probably find that it’s in their interests to work with the union.

The NUJ is part of the International Federation of Journalists, a global organisation of journalists’ unions. As a result, the NUJ’s reach can be much wider than managements expect. Al-Jazeera has discovered that twice in recent years – when the NUJ played an important role in helping to getting their journalists released from Egyptian prisons in 2014 and again last year when Qatar was blockaded and there were demands to shut down Al-Jazeera and other outlets.

The NUJ is not an outside organisation at Buzzfeed. The NUJ is a trade union and is made up of its members. The NUJ wants to empower its members in Buzzfeed and to welcome a recognised chapel in Buzzfeed into the NUJ’s decision-making structures. We’re here for you.

Dear Buzzfeed members: Vote yes, for yourselves.

More on the NUJ website:

Back BuzzFeed NUJ recognition

#HeartNUJ: Branch activity is the foundation of our union

This article originally appeared on the main NUJ site.

Donnacha DeLong, branch activist and NUJ rep

Why do I do this? I’ve been active in the NUJ since I was a student member more than 20 years ago. I’ve been a chapel officer, a branch officer, a member and chair of the national executive and other councils, vice-president and president of the union.

Read more of #HeartNUJ: Branch activity is the foundation of our union

Talking about strikes

If you went by what the media generally reports, you would think that unions are all about strikes. The rail unions, in particular, whether it’s Aslef on the Southern Service or the RMT and TSSA on the Tube, are currently in news because of their strikes. Even doctors in the BMA were on strike last year.

The reality is that unions are about a lot more than just strikes, but the other things they do are somewhat less newsworthy. The Trade Union Congress has 50 member unions, including the NUJ, and represents almost 5.6 million workers. Non-TUC unions accounted for around 700,000 more members in 2015, bringing the overall figure to over 6 million.

Read more of Talking about strikes