Racing Post in NUJ sights as BAJ member 'resigns'

The union recognition row at the Racing Post has taken a new twist following claims that the British Association of Journalists’ one member at the title has now left the organisation.

According to the NUJ, this means that owner Trinity Mirror must now recognise it as the official union at the daily paper. The union representation dispute began in June when the NUJ said it was close to gaining official recognition at Trinity Mirror Sports Division. The NUJ has 69 members out of the 131 journalists at the Racing Post and associated titles.

Trinity Mirror wrote to the NUJ saying it had instead decided to recognise the BAJ as the official union at the Racing Post. The BAJ has represented journalists on Trinity Mirror’s national titles since October 2001, but had just one member on the Racing Post.

Now, according to the NUJ, that member has decided to leave the BAJ. The NUJ is confident that this latest development means the BAJ deal will collapse and that Trinity Mirror will have to recognise the NUJ under the terms of the 1999 Employment Relations Act.

NUJ Father of Chapel at the Racing Post, Robin Gibson, said: “The one BAJ member has told me that he has resigned, which we thought was very decent.

“I wrote to him and basically explained the situation – he didn’t come under any pressure at all. “Trinity Mirror signed a deal with a union that doesn’t really represent anyone on the newspaper. He had been a member of the BAJ for some time and didn’t know what was going on. Once we’d explained the situation, he was happy to resign.”

NUJ members at the Racing Post are keen to get union recognition to strengthen their hand in negotiations over changes to working conditions. A large increase in Sunday racing from January will result in changes to shift patterns at the paper.

NUJ newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said: “I think this will alter the legal position; we have to put that to the test. It’s my understanding that without any members you can’t have a recognition agreement.”

BAJ chairman Leighton Bowen said: “We know that pressure has been put on this one chap to quit and we do not consider that that would alter our legal position at all. Our information is that some people on the Racing Post are now considering joining the BAJ.”

 

By Dominic Ponsford

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