#heartunions week of action - members stories
14 February 2016
As part of the TUC week of action, NUJ members speak out about why they heart the NUJ.
George Morris, an NUJ chapel representative at the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group explains the benefits of the NUJ: The impact we can have as journalists when we’re at our best.
NEC member Anita Halpin looks back over nearly 45 years as a trade union member: The reason I first joined a trade union was triggered by Tory anti-union legislation.
Pete Murray's essentials for the job when he started work were shorthand, touch typing, microphone techniques and an NUJ membership card: The bill threatens not just rights & traditions in trade unionism, it is a threat to good journalism.
Chris Frost explains how it’s been tough watching employers and government play on the legitimate fears of journalists but if we can persuade more people to join and build strong chapels, they'd feel more secure and happier at work: Journalists need to work together to improve working conditions.
Irish News chapel rep Bimpe Archer believes our greatest weapon is our solidarity and organisation: We're ordinary workers who are all too often the last defenders of simple dignity and fairness.
James Doherty explains the NUJ is the home for writers, broadcasters, photographers, PR professionals and those involved in editorial content. The union is the bulwark, challenging those who threaten our freedom to report on the world.
Andy Smith, current NUJ president, joined the NUJ the same year Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister and he believes the 2016 trade union bill represents attitudes formed back then. Andy highlights that volunteering to help an NUJ member is hugely rewarding.
Barbara Gunnell, former NUJ president and first job-share in post with Scarlett MccGwire argues that trade unions are the opposite of the caricatures peddled by politicians.
NEC member Alex MacDonald argues it is crucial people recognize that union membership is more than just about what you can get out of it. When David Cameron talks about 'reforming' union laws, he’s gazing longingly at Qatar and Iran.
Phil Turner, NUJ FoC at the Rotherham Advertiser, says: "Things have changed in the last 40 years but the same potential is there - if we get organised and rebuild confidence. I won my job back because of the fantastic solidarity shown to myself and my chapel last year." - There is (still) power in a union.
Richard Palmer, FoC at Express Newspapers, explains that journalists at the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Star Sunday and associated websites have not had a pay rise in eight years. Richard has written about his work for the union and the fair pay campaign on the TUC stronger unions website, saying: "On the face of it, a shop steward negotiating with Richard Desmond is about as superfluous a role as Donald Trump’s equality and diversity advisor."
TU bill weakens ability to protect people at work - that’s why we have to fight it says Francis Beckett.
More than 200,000 people have told David Cameron: don’t threaten the right to strike. On Wednesday 10 February, the TUC has handed in 203,979 supporters’ names to Downing Street. The PM has still not agreed to meet with the TUC over the trade union bill, so the petition delivered a clear message to the government from people right across the country.
On Tuesday 9 February, the TUC organised a big workplace meeting with many workplaces tuning in for the live broadcast with Frances O'Grady and Eddie Izzard. If you missed the meeting you can watch the archive footage on the #heartunions website.
The campaign against the bill is getting the government worried. They’ve been forced into some small concessions already, and they’ve lost their first vote on a bill amendment in the House of Lords. A leaked letter on Monday 8 February showed the government's concerns and recognised they’ll lose major parts of the bill to opposition in the Lords if they don’t make more concessions.
I am a member because the NUJ helped me when my employer wanted to fire me. I had been an employee for 25 years; we got new management and within 18 months all the old staff had either been forced out or had quit "voluntarily". I was shaken and emotionally upset when my employer started a series of disciplinary actions against me. I had a clean record for 25 years, but within months of the new management coming in, they were applying huge pressure on me to quit. My employer accidentally sent me a letter declaring their intention to get rid of me. The union helped me work through this and get the legal minimum compenstion package. My employer wanted to give me less than that. - David Shaw
I can't remember when I joined, but it must have been in about 1981 - having been brought up to believe that union membership was important. I was at first in the magazine branch. While there I went on several really good (and inexpensive) training courses. I also set up and became mother of a chapel, in an Islamic publishing house and negotiated our house agreement. Given the very different expectations and sensitivities that the international and interfaith membership brought to the negotiations I would never have managed without the advice of the NUJ. I continued as a member when I moved to IPC magazines and stood on a picket line during the strikes of the 1980s. Having become freelance I joined that branch in (about) 1986. As I am now quite old I get a number of younger people, especially women, asking me for advice. I always tell them to join the NUJ. I also tell them never to spend money on expensive courses run by newspapers but to go on the NUJ ones, which are not only cheaper and shorter but vastly more use in the real world.
As someone who writes about art I find my press card pays for itself in free admission to museums, catalogue discounts and it has got me through many closed doors and out of one of two tricky spots. Unions have come under increasing threat during the years of my NUJ membership, we need them and we need an independent press more than ever now. - Rosemary Hill
I have been a member of the NUJ for 50 years and am still working as a journalist. Why has it been important to be a member? Because the NUJ supports all journalists, helps to keep us 'free', stands up for the ethics of the trade and offers strength to those who find themselves under unfair or undue pressure from employers, from government departments, the police, local authorities and whoever has cause to try to suppress the voices of journalists who wish to expose corruption or other malpractices as occasionally identified in our complex society. It is vital to a healthy democracy that these voices, these women and men should still have someone powerful on their side. Leave us alone please. It is to everyone's advantage. - Bill Elliott
Without strong unions, there is no-one to ensure that workers continue to get a fair slice of the economic pie; without unions, there is no-one to protect whistleblowers against retaliation by callous employers who don't like their misdemeanours being exposed; without unions, there is no protection for investigative journalists whose continued freedom to research, expose and criticise form the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. This government wants to destroy union power because they believe that its demise will weaken the party currently opposing them on the national political stage. But in doing so they are also taking the next step in destroying the very social contract that underpins the economic stability and political transparency we've all benefited from for decades. Opposing this bill shouldn't be optional - at least not for people who believe in fairness, democracy and economic stability. - Stefan Ferreira
I have been a member of the NUJ since 1980 when I worked for IPC. Business Press. it was my first job in journalism (I was 20) and we were locked out by management for 6 weeks for being 'in fundamental breach' of our contracts after going on a one day strike over pay. During that time the union expertly negotiated our way back to work and a pay rise. I'll never forget that early taste of worker solidarity in the face of an unfair employer and the knowledge that the NUJ would support me through tough times - which it always has. - Ruth Devlin
I joined the NUJ because, as a freelance writer, there is very little protection against unscrupulous practices by media agencies taking advantage of you. The NUJ offers me a resource for advice and the knowledge that there is a body and a community that will uphold my best interests, and the principles of good, honest journalism. I am aware of no other organisation that does this. - Stuart Farrimond
I joined the NUJ because I believe it is crucial for journalists to be part of a community that defends the rights of those working in the field, encourages best practice in the profession, and is part of a wider national and global network of such communities. My membership has been especially important to me as a freelancer, as this mode of work can be very isolating, with pay and conditions having worsened considerably over the years. We are stronger as part of the union. - Michele Witthaus
I joined the NUJ because I believe it is important workers are treated fairly by their employers, with respect and compassion and as people, not simply faceless automatons who can be exploited when needed and cast aside when not. The longer I am employed the more I see examples of companies and management ignoring contracts to treat workers how it suits them, and not what is agreed in their employment, and feel the union is a vital tool for workers to come together and ensure we all are treated as we deserve. - Bill Rice
As a young journalist trying his damndest to make it in the profession we love, the proposed trade unions bill is something which I must oppose. For too long mainstream media corporations have had the dominant share of power within the industry, and the targeting of NUJ members during times of necessary redundancy is a clear representation of this. The large corporations do not want to be opposed, they want 100 per cent loyalty at all times even when this may be to the detriment of employed or freelance journalists. This is something which the NUJ actively works against when it is needed to and is something, which if the trade union bill goes ahead, will be much harder to oppose in future. I joined the NUJ to have my voice heard, to stand with other journalists across all media platforms to ensure that the democratic free press which we love is defended at all times. This governments proposal of a trade unions bill is not only a direct attack on all workers of this country, but an impediment on the journalists who strive to achieve an open and unbiased press. - Jack Mills
I joined the NUJ over 40 years ago because I wanted to be part of an organisation which stands up for ordinary workers. I was FoC of the BBC chapel in Manchester in the 1990s. Employers, especially the large ones, do not look after their workers as people and individuals. We all find out pretty quickly that personnel departments are not there to look after the personnel, they are there to protect the management. These days, the decrease in local ownership of the media makes the exploitation of workers even more widespread and makes the relevance of a strong union even more important. All steps designed to weaken unions should be resisted. - Charlie Lambert
I joined the NUJ because I'm a partially sighted, freelance journalist with my own limited company. I cover news, current affairs and sports stories specialising in minority audiences and issues not covered appropriately by mainstream media such as disability, equality and diversity. I have also been nominated for this year's Diversity Champion award. Since qualifying in 2012 I have tried my best to build a career in journalism and feel that being a member of the NUJ gives me plenty of support whilst doing my job. - Ashish Prabhu
I am a member of the NUJ because I consider it a vital, though weakening, protection for journalists in their time honoured function of reporting and disseminating information, which provides the transparency and accountability on which our democracy depends. Journalists are ever more vulnerable where the state adopts ever greater powers to control information through surveillance and other means, to punish whistleblowers, to bring extra powers to bear to force journalists to reveal sources in cases where there is no public interest to do so. The NUJ is also a protection, if a union chapel is in place especially in the place of work, to protect journalists from employers who put pressure on them to act illegally. The hacking crisis would never have happened, in my opinion, if there had been a strong NUJ presence in the various newspapers involved in it. The journalists would have had the backing to refuse to use illegal means to obtain information, such as by hacking phones. As it was, they faced the sack if they refused to do so. - James Fox
I first joined the Book branch of the NUJ while working as an in-house designer as one of the largest UK publishers. A publisher that fortunately recognised the union and respected membership. I joined the union because I was aware of the valuable work it did to support employees and negotiate salaries and terms. The union supported me on two occasions while I was in-house. Firstly making me aware of extra payments I was entitled to while acting-up for my manager who was on long-term sick leave – information that HR clearly weren’t going to impart voluntarily – and, secondly, when I faced redundancy. The union was also instrumental in defending redundancy terms and payments offered by the publisher – more generous terms that the statutory minimum. And as far as I’m aware those generous terms remain unchanged 13 years after I left the company. It is these reasons that I remain an NUJ member as part of the freelance branch. And since being freelance I have sort advice from the the union, and I feel reassured that I have somewhere to go for advice should I need it. There are various aspects of the trade union bill that worry me, but particualrly the proposed restrictions on strikes and the requirement to supply personal details of union representatives to the police. I wasn’t aware that being a union member or representative was a criminal offence; then why the involvement of the police? Do the government want all union members to be placed on their domestic extremism list? Does defending the right for workers to have decent terms and working conditions make you an extremist? - Nicky Barneby
I am a documentary maker. I believe in the citizen's right to be able to investigate, document and report. Without a strong union, we may very well find that right trampled upon and even taken away. That is why I joined the National Union of Journalists. - Shafiur Rahman
I was an NUJ member throughout my 40-odd years in the industry working in newspapers, radio and television and am still a member in retirement. I joined because I believe that journalists need a strong collective voice, not only to protect their pay and conditions, but even more importantly to fight for press freedom, independence and integrity. That fight has never been more important against a government using every tactic to stifle opposition and avoid public scrutiny. - Hugh Turnbull
I joined the NUJ because I’m a freelance, and wanted the support of a professional organisation. The NUJ provides me with professional training, legal advice, information about potential customer/employers (most often useful warnings of a poor history of paying for work!), fellowship, and the knowledge that I can call on support if I’m ever unfortunate enough to need it. Increasing numbers of journalists are becoming freelance, rather than regularly employed salaried staff. It’s a trend in many industries, but especially prevalent in the media. It’s attractive to big corporations as they can save money on such things as holiday and sickness pay. But it leads to a massive imbalance in bargaining power. In theory, a freelance negotiates terms on an equal footing with a 'customer' – the big business to which they are selling their services. In practice, many media companies are international conglomerates, owning many revenue channels. Therefore, in reality, the bargaining power between a single freelance and a multinational mega-corporation is NOT even. In practice, the corp can set out any terms it wants, with a 'take it or leave it' attitude. And strangely, different corporations often seem to be offering similar terms to each other. Thus, hungry freelances with bills to pay find their terms eroded time after time. This is why we need a union. - Helen Johnson
I am just a lowly music journalist and mostly write fairly fluffy pieces in a fluffy scene. Then I came across a story of great wrongdoing by a very powerful figure and in attempting to tell the story was attacked by him in several ways and dropped by the Guardian after his threats to them. I was left alone to be taken apart by his lawyers. I went to the only other journalist I knew outside of my scene and he told me I should join the NUJ. The NUJ were extremely helpful in every way and while not able to offer actual legal support they gave immense moral support and guidance. If it weren't for the union this powerful figure would have ruined me entirely. Sincere thanks to all at the NUJ for standing up for it's members, large and small. - Tim Sheridan
Being a freelance journalist is precarious by nature. Being part of NUJ means I know there are others standing with me, making the difference on all sorts of small, everyday things. Being part of NUJ means I'm part of the wider trade union movement. That's enabled me to play a part in demonstrations in defence of all the public services that make life human and civilised. I'm part of something, through my union and the wider trade union movement, that challenges corporate greed. - Anton McCabe
Speaking as an NUJ member since my first week at work in January, 1970…
The NUJ, like other unions, fundamentally serves to partially correct the imbalance of power between media companies (especially the dominant national and pan-national giants) and the individual journalists who work for them. This applied obviously when I worked on the staff of Thomson Regional Newspapers and Morgan-Grampian magazines, but in a different and less widely appreciated way during my 36-year (and counting) career as a freelance and self-employed journalist. I'd like to emphasise the freelance side of the union's work. It's particularly relevant given 30 per cent of our 30,000 members now are self-employed and that this proportion is rising.
It's legally and practically very difficult for self-employed workers to bargain collectively or take any collective action. But by making available a huge range of advice and support - such as on the meaning of contracts obscurely drafted by expensive lawyers, how to negotiate improvements in their most financially dangerous and/or anti-business clauses, and how to get slow- or non-paying companies to cough up - the NUJ, like many other unions with self-employed members, helps enable freelances to continue their work.
This applies not only in terms of financial transactions. Copyright is a good example. The law says that self-employed creative workers of all sorts own copyright in their work. Per se, this protects their ability to resell their material and make a better living, but it also means they can guard the integrity of the work in terms of the way it is used and edited. But copyright ownership is not an inalienable right. So many companies strive to remove it contractually in order to grab for themslves all future income from the self-employed journalist's work and, in the worst cases, to enable them to distort the work (verbal or pictorial) e.g. to make a 'sexier' story than the true one. At the same time, many companies also try, contractually, to offload all responsibility for the work on to the freelance via warranty and indemnity clauses thereby enabling them to publish, distort – and dump the consequences on to the freelance. This is not only unfair to the individual freelance, but debases journalism and the valuable role it can play in informing the citizenry and energising the culture - that is, serving both our democracy and our economy.
On so many issues, this is the beneficial effect of the NUJ, and trade unions generally. In representing workers, employed and self-employed, the NUJ serves UK democracy and the UK economy; it makes the UK that little bit more free and that little bit more dynamic and prosperous. Therefore, the proposed restrictions on union work would be damaging to the UK's democracy and economy – meaning, a very bad idea indeed. - Phil Sutcliffe
I joined the NUJ because I believe that the only thing between the carnage that corporations have been visiting upon workplaces and the very fabric of society is organised workers. It is clear that there is a huge gulf between the (always short-term) interests of the shareholders and the (always long-term) interests of us workers (and of the service we provide): the only people committed to a workplace and what it produces are us, the workers, because our livelihood depend on it and because most of us want to be proud of what we do for a living – shareholders simply sell and buy somewhere else if they don’t see good immediate prospects for their investment. That’s why they call us workers "human resources". That’s all we are to them. It is equally clear that the die are heavily weighted in favour of shareholders, and that the only thing we workers have is each other. And the right to withhold labour against bosses is what makes the difference between a worker and a slave. That’s why I joined the NUJ and why I support the fight against this outrageous, shameful bill. - Dona Velluti
Journalists and editors tread a difficult line. Their voice carries far and has weight, and because of this, the majority of those within the profession acknowledge a responsibility to uphold certain moral values. However, at the same time, they often remain subject to the same commercial demands and employer pressures facing any individual trying to make a living and support a family. The potential for conflict between a moral and business demands is why I joined the NUJ. That line would be much more difficult to tread without the advice, training and reassurance of a union to support and guide me. - Paul Farley
I joined NUJ 20 years ago when I was a BBC Arabic TV presenter. Despite that I left London in 1996, I am still a member (overseas member) and proud to be. - Mhamed Krichen
I joined the NUJ because I was threatened with redundancy through no fault of my own. Due to the axing of the programme I worked on for budgetary reasons which coincided with a schedule change at BBC Radio Scotland I became a victim of circumstance. I felt I needed the support of the union and received it wholeheartedly. I can honestly say without the support and pressure the NUJ exerted on the BBC I would not be an employee today. For that I will always be grateful. - Robert Seiler
I am a member of the NUJ for one selfish reason - that it gives me free legal advice when I have needed it and the service has been spot on. - Terry Gilder
As an NUJ freelance member I would be mad not to have joined the body that represents my profession as it goes through this period of flux. Two hundred years ago I would not have the luxury to choose - how far we have come! - Fergal MacErlean
The NUJ’s Mike Sherrington provided me with invaluable help when a former employer unfairly dismissed me. The union supported me all the way to an industrial tribunal and provided superb legal representation from Thompsons, which enabled me to achieve a resounding victory. I’ll always be indebted to the union for its help when I most needed it. - Mark Hayes
If enough like-minded people come together, they produce a strong voice against inequality, unfairness and exploitation. Individually, ordinary people can be taken for granted in the workplace and treated badly. This is just plain wrong. The existence of the of the NUJ means that fairness cannot be ignored and that advice and support are always on hand. I've been a member of the NUJ for over 15 years and luckily have only needed their legal advice once. But that one time was worth all my years' membership, not just for the helpful advice but for the feeling of being supported as a freelance editor and given strength against a big publisher (who backed down). Thank you NUJ. - Adelene Chinnick
On two separate occasions in recent years the NUJ has helped me recover money from clients who were being difficult. Despite written contracts and verbal agreements both clients in question simply decided they were not going to pay my invoices. They ignored all my attempts to communicate with them. Being freelance can be an isolating experience, and when you’re confronted with a problem like this – clients not paying for services rendered – you need help and support. The NUJ’s legal support team helped me recover 100% of what was owed on both occasions, totalling something in the region of £4,000. I’d advise anyone working in journalism, PR, or communications to join the NUJ. - Sean Fleming
You belong to a union for much the same reason you tie your bootlaces: otherwise you trip up. And you belong to the union that deals directly with the work you do. In my time I've been a member of the Swedish Metal Workers Union, because I worked at the Volvo car factory for a year in the 70's. I was part of Swedish Equity for a while, when I wrote and acted in plays. After 43 years in Britain, I'm now a member of the NUJ because I write mostly in English, it's my root language; because the state of British journalism concerns me greatly; because our rights and conditions are being undermined almost daily; and finally because I can think of no better organisation to protect the freedom of the press, and freedom of speech generally. - Gunnar Pettersson
I joined the NUJ in the 1950s to support my fellow workers in their stand against newspaper managements intent on diminishing their bargaining rights. - John Michael Wade
I joined when I started my first job in journalism, a weekly newspaper, in 1977. I joined because I believe in collective bargaining and support for members. We would not have attained decent pay and work conditions without the NUJ. I love my press card and am very proud to be a journalist and part of a community of journalists. The NUJ helped me enormously, giving legal advice, when I had some troubles with a former employer. I particularly value the newspaper for freelance members which keeps me in touch with developments affecting journalists all round the UK. I now teach journalism and encourage students to join the NUJ. - Rosie Waterhouse
I am not a journalist but as a writer, editor and press officer I work in and interact with the media as part of my work. The NUJ has been a source of information and support when needed and makes me realise the insecure and badly paid and resourced conditions experienced by many journalists and other media workers. - Kaye Stearman
When I first worked in trade and technical journalism it was an ambition of mine to get into the NUJ: I think I thought of it as being a kind of badge of being a "proper" journalist. I had also had an upbringing with the awareness of the importance of trade unions and issues of social justice, and an innate attitude towards things "being fair". When I moved to a publication where the editor was an NUJ member he nominated me - I was delighted! I continued as a member, in one position being equalities officer for the chapel, and am now a retired member. During a period of ill health and unemployment I was given benefits by the union, which really helped me at that difficult time. But perhaps the most important aspect of my membership was the legal assistance and support I received over an unfair dismissal situation. The situation, occasioned by an unwanted change of role without retraining and a "square peg in round hole" scenario, was resolved, the outcome being that I left with a good redundancy package and references. Without union assistance employers can steamroller folk into doing as they want - which often is not even the best thing for either the publication or the organisation in general! I would recommend anyone in journalism or information work to join the NUJ. And also advise people in other trades/professions to join their trade union. I am not a rampant socialist, actually believing that a well treated and remunerated workforce benefits everyone - but that employers sometimes need this pointing out to them! - Jo Sowr
I joined the NUJ as I watched colleagues' opinions and suggestions at the BBC systematically being ignored by bosses. We stopped being valued for what we did, despite often going above and beyond the call of duty to get stories on air and there seemed to be only one place that understood how our rights as journalists were being (not so) slowly eradicated. At the time I was also teaching radio journalism at a university when a complaint was made about me to a boss by a student that I had failed (because she had handed in no work for months and was not turning up to lectures) despite several warnings. With no discussion from bosses with me, HR turned up at one of my lectures and removed me from the premises, telling me I had been suspended due to a student complaint. The NUJ were fantastic at this point. I was reinstated with apologies and the student removed. With the current government attitude it's essential we stick together to fight further erosion of both our rights and the respect for what we do. - Fiona MacDonald
I joined the NUJ because I have been a victim of police and security staff intimidation, simply for reporting on stories that were inconvenient for those in public office. Carrying a Press Card from the NUJ is like having a licence to defend the human rights of the public from those that need to be made accountable for their decisions. - Jonathan Bishop
I was a trainee at the Leicester Mercuy in 1972 when there was a national strike over pay. I was threatened with the sack if I went on strike. The FOC John Allen threatened the editor Brian West he would be faced with an even bigger dispute if I was sacked. I duly joined the NUJ and went on strike. It made me a committed union member. When we went back to work I had a difficult time but I rode it out. Today, I'm a life member of the NUJ, serve on the NEC and Profcom, the training committee and I've chaired the Nottingham NUJ branch for 18 years. - Diana Peasey
I'm a freelance journalist and joined the NUJ for support in times of trouble and legal advice when companies are slow to pay. I'd like to thank the union for what it has delivered over the years. - Stuart Forster
It never occurred to me not to join the NUJ. If I was working in a field, it was my duty to join whichever union was associated with that field. I have benefited from membership manifold ways - from my press card (which hasn't actually been as pivotal as I expected it to be) contract reading and advice, skills training and support when things didn't go completely right. The real benefit of membership for me, however, is knowing the support is there. Whether I use it or not it's a peace of mind that I am not, as a freelance, totally on my own. - Sandra Lawrence
I've been a member of a few unions - an alphabet soup almost. NUJ, SCPS, NUPE, GMB, PCS, PTC, UNISON, NUCPS... Everywhere I have worked since I left my polytechnic course, I have ended up finding out what the appropriate union was for the work I did and joined up. There were a few reasons for this, reflecting the times, people and places I have encountered. When I went to college at the start of the 1980s my politics were pretty negative, reflecting the music I loved at the time and the post 1970s mess the country seemed to be in.
I ended up as president of the student union when I finished my course, and joined NUPE - the local government union representing low paid staff at the polytechnic. And I was very low paid! I was also representing students at the former Treforest School of Mines at the heart of the miners strike that defined an era of industrial relations. I met a wide range of trade unionists - from GCHQ civil servants who were banned from union membership, to women from Dublin's Dunnes Stores who were striking for recognition and fair pay and conditions. A guy called Ken Snape - now sadly dead - was helping out on the committee and he shared decades of Welsh valleys' trade union and labour movement experience to inform our campaigning against cuts to budgets and student grants. There was more - involvement in the anti apartheid movement and insights into international politics, as I met people studying in the UK having had to leave their homes in the middle east due to war and the risk of persecution. Being involved in a union was an education and a chance to work with others to try to build a better society - however naive or idealistic that may sound. And I came across the first really big practical, example of a personal union victory for a member. A friend who was sacked from the bar where he worked won an unfair dismissal claim with the help of his TGWU membership, and picked up enough compensation to start his own bar!
And so it went on. Working for the voluntary sector I collected subscriptions for the members in my office. Half a dozen of us, including the manager, all signed up. Then the civil service trade unions, where I was a member from day one, and we campaigned against office closures, reductions in terms and conditions and for enough staff to do our job properly. We didn't win everything by any means. But we consistently made sure decisions were better informed and took the views and needs of the workforce into account - often with significant benefits for the taxpayer too, as daft ideas were shot down and the wilder overpriced schemes of consultants were held to account.
Now I am working full time as a communications professional, it is the NUJ that represents me. While I am a member of professional organisations for people working in PR too, they are there as professional bodies. The NUJ is here to represent me as a worker, an employee and someone facing the impact of workforce cuts, attacks on the type of work I and fellow professionals do. The NUJ understands the industry I work in.
There's wisdom from people who have been there and done it to be learned from. There's support and friendship from people facing similar challenges. And most importantly, there's the feeling that you aren't on your own. You're one of many, who can link together, face forward and tackle the challenges that we encounter with a positive view and a spring in our step. - Phil Morcom
The law is an imperfect creature; which is why it constantly evolves. It does so through contested court cases. In employment law that constitutes tribunals. Because of government changes to legal aid and employment law, it has become harder for people to dispute claims against unscrupulous employers. That cannot be right as consequently the law does not always evolve as it should. The role of the NUJ as an intermediary and from a legal perspective is absolutely fundamental to an honest society that permits proper justice and fair treatment of workers. I have personally benefitted from NUJ help in the past for which I will be eternally grateful. The NUJ and other unions are not there to disrupt or threaten the status quo; they serve a valuable and valid contribution to ensure a fair society. They are if you like a check on social conscience. - Andrew Pelis
Journalists need a special sort of trade union which combines advancing their wages, conditions and job security with protecting their professional interest in defending the practice of journalism.
For more than a century the NUJ has been that special union, devoting its energy to winning for journalists at work while standing up for journalism as the world's leading advocate of press freedom.
All my working life I've been proud to be an NUJ member, and so are many thousands of others. If you haven't done so alrady, please join them and strengthen our union. - Eddie Barrett
I joined in 1965 when I started work on my local newspaper. Over the years the union has helped me in many ways, improving wages and conditions and giving much needed advice. I took part in a number of disputes and stood on picket lines - always seemed to be in bad weather! I am appalled at the way the government is trying to reduce the power of unions whether by restricting picketing, interfering with ballots, collecting of subs and time off for union activities. I hope unions will continue to grow and flourish as an important way to help working people. - Gloria Pearce
I joined NUJ while a 16 year old trainee on my local weekly and finally retired from PR work some 10 years ago. Our union is invaluable and, although sometimes financially stretched, I never waivered in paying my subs. Would I have survived the infamous Pole-Carew new technology strike at the Nottingham Evening Post without NUJ support? I very much doubt it. The need for the union now is even greater than it was then. Join, recruit and be proud to do so. You will certainly be more secure. - Jack Statham
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The union has a broad range of members who explain in their own words why they joined and why you should join the NUJ.
Read more about the NUJ's campaign against the trade union bill.
What have the trade unions done for us?
Ever wondered what the trade union movement in Britain has done for us? Equal pay, equal opportunities, maternity pay and flexible working hours. This short film explains how the trade unions have changed working life.