The National Union of Journalists is set to become a shareholder in ITV, Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror as part of a plan to buy an interest in all publicly-traded broadcast, newspaper and magazine businesses in which its members work.
Purchasing a small number of shares in each company, the union believes, will enable it to raise its concerns about the treatment of staff more effectively as shareholders are entitled to attend annual general meetings and question senior executives and board members.
Delegates at the union’s annual policy-making conference, in Southport at the weekend, voted to instruct the National Executive Committee of the NUJ to: “Obtain small shareholdings of all media plcs, enough to allow the participation of activists in their future AGMs.”
Members of the NUJ chapels in Birmingham and Coventry raised the issue at the conference after they successfully lobbied as a company shareholder at the Trinity Mirror AGM in May.
The overwhelming vote in favour of the motion means that for the first time the NUJ will take a holding in a business as an active campaigning technique.
Currently the single share necessary to grant the NUJ access to the next Trinity Mirror AGM would cost it £1.49. Had the union bought that share in March it would have cost 20p.
Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary of the NUJ, said the union was looking to adopt innovative ways of exposing the failure of the big media companies.
She said: “We’ve been lobbying shareholders for some years now, calling on them to ask questions that will put pressure on chief executives to consider the wider importance their companies play in society, not just the bottom line.
“But this is the first time we’ll be taking coordinated action to ensure that the Sly Baileys and John Frys of this world are called to answer for what they are doing to local journalism.”
An NUJ spokesman told Press Gazette the union was now examining the details of how many companies it would buy into and the total cost of the exercise.