Vulnerable workers project
Thanks to funding from the Union Modernisation Fund, the NUJ is launching a major new project to improve the way the union helps and organises freelance and casual journalists and new recruits into the industry.
Reaching out to journalists who are working from home, doing casual shifts in a variety of workplaces or working in unrecognised workplaces can be tricky. The informal “mentorship” of new recruits that traditionally happened as a matter of course in chapels is less common for journalists starting out their careers in the wide range of media in the UK. Yet these are journalists who often face the worst exploitation – anything from unpaid internships and copyright abuses to the refusal to grant employment rights to regular casuals.
The NUJ is in the process of renewing its membership database and revamping its website so that in the future we are better able to reach out to all journalists – wherever and however they are working. We’re already surveying branches to get a better idea of how branches do this at present. The intention is to ensure we are better able to target information and make journalists working in the industry fully aware of their rights. It will also mean that chapel reps and branch officials will be able to more easily access information and make contact with those members in their own workplaces and areas.
A key part of this project will be the launch of a mentoring scheme, so that journalists – whether they are new to the industry, working from home or doing casual shifts – can be put in touch with a more experienced journalist or activist who can offer specific guidance and support, either face to face, by phone or online.
We’re already seeking volunteers from amongst the union’s membership who would be prepared to offer this advice and support. Mentors will be given all the training and guidance they need.
We hope that new members and freelance journalists being put in touch with reps and mentors in their area will spark new grassroots networks.
Throughout the next 18 months, there will be lots of work and related activities on this project. The NUJ will create regular online surgeries and offer more tailored online content relevant to members working across all sectors of the union.
We’ll keep you all updated on the work and progress of the project. If you have any queries or suggestions regarding the mentoring initiative, please contact David Doré
NUJ Deputy General Secretary