The NUJ has won recognition at Newsquest Essex via the Central Arbitration Committee following a dispute with management.
The division covers papers including the Basildon Echo, Thurrock Gazette and Southend Standard.
The union alleged that management reneged on an agreement to allow a voluntary ballot on whether to gain recognition – a claim the company refutes – and demanded a membership check. The union said it had no alternative but to proceed through an application with the CAC. In the interim period, the NUJ said that union membership significantly increased.
NUJ assistant organiser Don Mackglew said: ‘I am pleased to see the increased number of new members joining the union, prompted by the way management was behaving regarding recognition. Clearly the way the situation has been managed was very counter-productive and worked very much in the union’s favour.’Father of the Chapel, Charlie Mellor said: ‘I am sure that members will be delighted that they finally have a chance to convince management that better pay, hours and conditions are not a pipe dream, but vital for stemming the flow of staff voluntarily leaving the company.’Basildon Echo editor Martin O’Neill said: ‘I’m disappointed that having gained recognition the union is taking an aggressive standpoint and misrepresenting the situation. We talked amicably about allowing a voluntary ballot but the union gave us conflicting messages about how many members it had and we asked for a check. As for staff levels, the turnover is not particularly high.”