Independent journalists revive National Union of Journalists chapel two years after print title closures

Journalists at the Independent have revived their National Union of Journalists chapel and are looking to use an anonymous staff survey as the basis of discussions with management.

The NUJ chapel had lapsed after the closure of the Independent and Independent on Sunday print titles in February 2016.

In a statement the chapel said: “We have re-established the Independent’s NUJ chapel to facilitate discussions between management and journalists and hope we can build a mutually beneficial structure to find solutions to any issues raised.

“We love working at The Independent and in this ever-changing media landscape, we would like to positively contribute to shaping the workplace.

“We will shortly be sending all NUJ members an anonymous survey and hope to use its findings as the basis for discussions with management.”

Commenting on the reopening of the chapel, NUJ national organiser Laura Davison said: “We fully support this important step by journalists at the Independent.

“It’s great to see the positive spirit of the chapel and we wish them every success. We look forward to positively engaging with the company about this development.”

The NUJ criticised The Independent in for closing the print titles in a “deal clinched behind closed doors, without any consultation or attempts to engage with staff”.

The previous incarnation of the Independent NUJ chapel also threatened strike action in 2013 over planned job cuts at the title.

The Independent is not the only online-only title to make recent moves toward unionisation.

Journalists at Buzzfeed UK asked for NUJ representation in December 2016 prompting founder Jonah Peretti to fly to the UK and meet with staff.

A year later, the NUJ described job cuts at the online-only brand as “chilling for the whole media industry”.

Vice UK turned down a request for recognition from the NUJ in April last year, prompting accusations of an “old-fashioned, union busting ruse”.

Vice UK instead proposed a staff council as an alternative to NUJ recognition.

In a staff email, Vice EMEA chief executive Matt Elek said the NUJ was “not used to innovative, digital workplaces like this where the culture has always been to encourage flexibility and allow people work across different departments”.

Vice UK eventually set up the staff council, claiming it was supported by a majority of staff.

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