Sunday Times considering surveillance for newsroom

CCTV: some would prefer use only at night

A Sunday Times plan to put digital CCTV cameras in the newsroom is causing disquiet among its journalists.

The cameras would be able to monitor all staff at all times and the images stored for as long as is thought necessary, in an attempt to counteract an increase in thefts. Some valuable property has gone missing.

The journalists are currently being canvassed on their reaction to the idea, which is already in practice at MGN titles.

At a recent meeting of the News International Staff Association (Nisa) Wapping branch, there were a number of issues raised about the cameras, including people’s dislike of being under constant surveillance; the storing of images and the possibility of them being used to monitor specific individuals suspected of breaking company policies; the possible addition of microphones to monitor conversations; and the siting and timing of the cameras.

Some journalists feel there would be a big difference between their being used only at night (when most of the thefts have occurred) and 24-hour use.

There is also concern that there has been a lack of a proper “threat analysis” – no proper study of what the real problem is and the best methods of dealing with it.

Journalists think it might be cheaper and more effective simply to put better locks on the newsroom doors and to provide staff with lockers, drawers and cupboards that can be locked.

But a spokeswoman for the newspaper said that although cameras were under consideration, the proposal had not been agreed and the input of the staff would be taken into consideration.

The cameras would not just be in the newsroom, but in all vulnerable areas of the building, she said.

lSunday Times journalists are balloting on a three-year pay deal which would give them 2.25 per cent on basic salary plus a profit-related 1 per cent bonus for each of the three years. The amalgamated offer would see an average rise of 4.5 per cent. The deal also includes a rise in pension contributions, which would add 4 per cent on the part of employees and 11 per cent from the employer.

If they vote to accept, the basic pay rise would start in July but the bonus would not be paid until October. The deal is for full-time staff only. Nisa has recommended the deal, but has expressed concern about pay rises for casuals.

By Jean Morgan

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