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Buzzfeed staff vote against representation by NUJ for collective bargaining

18 July 2018

The work of NUJ activists at BuzzFeed in the face on a relentless anti-union campaign by the company has been widely praised. Reacting to the negative outcome of the ballot for union recognition Laura Davidson paid tribute to those who had worked hard to protect workers at BuzzFeed.

Laura Davison, national organiser, said: “Despite today’s disappointing result, NUJ members at BuzzFeed past and present who supported recognition should be proud of all the work they have done to stand together and make the case for a collective voice at work. Their solidarity and determination, in the face of concerted opposition from the very top of the company and swingeing redundancies during the process, has been incredibly impressive. The legal procedure has been long and drawn out, lasting for more than a year, and there is no doubt this has contributed to the outcome. I’d like to thank everyone who helped and has been involved over such a long period of time and sent messages of support to the chapel. We’ll continue to work with our members at the company and support them.

The NUJ Buzzfeed chapel said:  “We were disappointed to hear the result, though not entirely surprised. We first asked their 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. But, 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.”

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: "This outcome does not take from the incredible work put in to this campaign by our full-time officials and chapel officers. I would like to pay tribute to them and to those at branch and NEC level who offered support and guidance. We will continue to work for our members at BuzzFeed, and support them, and will not be deterred by this setback."

Andy Smith, NUJ organiser, said: "Given the company’s hostile attitude, both generally towards the idea of recognition and personally towards chapel members who they considered were leading the campaign; the result is disappointing but not entirely surprising. Collective bargaining in such an atmosphere would have been a daunting prospect for the staff that remained after the redundancies."

A spokesperson for Buzzfeed 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.”

Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed's founder and chief executive had told staff that he did not think "unionisation" was is the right idea for BuzzFeed.

Tags: , buzzfeed, digital media, recognition, collective bargaining