MPs support NUJ ?ght for recognition at Racing Post

Forty MPs have written to Trinity Mirror demanding the company recognises the NUJ rather than the British Association of Journalists at the Racing Post.

In addition, the NUJ has written to the Central Arbitration Committee in an attempt to force Trinity Mirror to recognise it as the official union at the paper under the provisions of the 1999 Employment Relations Act.

If necessary, the NUJ says it is willing to take the dispute all the way to the European Court.

The row started last month when the NUJ said it was close to signing an agreement to represent 131 journalists working in Trinity Mirror’s Sports Division.

At the 11th hour the union received letter from the company saying it had instead decided to recognise the BAJ at the Post and its sister titles.

More than 100 journalists signed a petition protesting against the move, 68 of whom were NUJ members.

NUJ newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said that BAJ general secretary Steve Turner had written to NUJ members at the Post offering them free membership. He claimed this was “an admission that he can’t get them to join”. He added: “We’ve had a very substantial response from the MPs we’ve written to – 40 have written to Trinity Mirror objecting to what it has done and demanding it recognises the NUJ.”

The BAJ has sent three letters to the homes of Post journalists. The first offered discounted membership of £10 a month and the third reduced the subscription to nothing.

If the CAC upholds recognition of the BAJ at the Post, the NUJ will seek judicial review and, if necessary, take the matter to the European Court, said Fitzpatrick.

The BAJ’s Turner said many organisations, including the NUJ, made free offers or discounts to attract members.

The BAJ had made the free membership offer to Post journalists and those on associated titles as a demonstration of good faith. It would allow them to assess the sincerity of BAJ in representing their interests in full.

“If the journalists concerned are satisfied with BAJ’s support they can become paying members in a year’s time. The NUJ seems unable to accept that BAJ, following an official ballot, is statutorily empowered to represent all 550 journalists on the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People – the other titles in MGN,” he said.

“As BAJ already represents the vast majority of MGN journalists, it makes sense for BAJ to represent all 131 journalists on the Racing Post and associated titles. That’s why a voluntary recognition agreement was signed between BAJ and MGN management.

“For the NUJ to suggest that BAJ is a sweetheart union at MGN is a lie. BAJ is as independent as any other union.

But BAJ does not see the employers as the enemy. We want to work with employers for the common good.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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