Buzzfeed UK votes against union recognition saying direct relationship with management is ‘best way forward’

Buzzfeed UK has opted against union recognition for its London editorial team under the National Union of Journalists.

The decision was made through a secret independent vote that split the Buzzfeed bargaining unit, 22 against and 4 in favour, according to Buzzfeed UK.

A spokesperson told Press Gazette: “We appreciate our employees’ decision to continue our direct relationship with management here in the UK and believe this is the best way forward for Buzzfeed.

“As always, we support and respect the right of individuals within our staff who continue to be members of the NUJ.”

The push for union representation came in November 2016 when the Buzzfeed NUJ chapel asked management to recognise them in a letter to editor-in-chief Janine Gibson.

But, Buzzfeed chief executive Jonah Peretti said at the time that he didn’t think a union “is in the best interests of Buzzfeed or our employees”. He said: “Unions represent employees around a rigid skillset that doesn’t reflect the fluid and flexible way we work…”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet supported the move and in a letter of support said: “The world will not cave in when BuzzFeed editorial staff vote for NUJ recognition.

“It will be a move that will improve staff relations with management, and produce results that collectively benefit workers.”

At the start of this year, 23 editorial redundancies were made out of 76 newsroom staff at Buzzfeed UK.

Peretti told staff at the time: “In the UK we are realigning the organisation to focus on content for global audiences and our core UK news beats – investigations, politics, media and social justice – and intend to make reductions across buzz, commercial, news and admin as a result.”

A spokesperson for the Buzzfeed NUJ chapel told The Guardian: “We were disappointed to hear about today’s result, though not entirely surprised.

“We first asked our management for recognition more than 18 months ago, after months of organising, and at that point there was enormous enthusiasm among Buzzfeed UK employees for a stronger voice in the workplace and a collective push for improvements.

“Today, though – following heavy redundancies over the winter and a series of departures since – the makeup of the staff has changed.

“Buzzfeed has poured considerable resources into challenging our bid for recognition, and we have had to contend with a protracted legal process that has at times eclipsed the positive change we’ve been trying to achieve.”

Picture: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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