London News Network, the television news production company jointly owned by Carlton and Granada, has recognised the NUJ following discussions between journalists and management.
Phil Bayles, senior reporter on the LNN-produced regional news programme London Tonight, has been elected its first Father of Chapel. An election for his deputy will be called in due course.
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Bayles said recognition of the union came easily at LNN, as many individual journalists at the company were already NUJ members and management was open to officially accepting union representation.
“There was no difficulty at all,” he said. “We were pushing against an open door really. As individual NUJ members, we felt the time was right to put LNN on an official footing, as it’s a very useful way to raise issues with the company. We just wanted to ensure our views are officially represented through the union.”
NUJ broadcast organiser Paul McLaughlin described the move as timely, as the media industry awaited fundamental changes in the run-up to the communications bill.
LNN managing director Denise Harker said the union’s recognition was “in the good spirit of co-operation between two sets of people and has kicked off in a positive way”.
Harker admitted that a sense of insecurity may have grown among journalists after a raft of redundancies two years ago that saw 28 positions lost from the newsroom (Press Gazette 21 August 2001).
“Following that, people felt they didn’t know what the future might hold and at a time like that, collective representation becomes attractive.”
She said negotiations between the NUJ and management would still be carried out via the “staff communications forum” through which all other non-journalistic staff raised issues of pay and conditions. Bayles said the union would appoint a number of representatives to the forum and the chapel now hoped to put in an annual pay claim to LNN management.
By Wale Azeez