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Messages of support flood in for Iran International chapel

13 July 2020

Messages of support and solidarity have flooded in to condemn the British Association of Journalists' dirty deal with Iran International, despite the overwhelming number of journalists there being members of the NUJ who were engaged in a recognition bid.

Please tweet your support of the Iran International chapel using the hashtags #Solidarity4NUJIranInt  #TURightsAreHumanRights, #BAJofShame, tagging @the_baj and @FlyMyatt, Matthew Myatt, BAJ’s general secretary and asking him to withdraw deal. Or send a message of support to

 #Solidarity4NUJIranInt on Twitter

On behalf of the NUJ chapel at the Racing Post, we would like to express our support for and solidarity with Iran International following management's decision there to sign a deal recently with the BAJ union. The situation at Iran International has unhappy parallels with what happened at Racing Post in 2003, when the owners at the time, Trinity Mirror, signed a recognition deal with BAJ just as the NUJ chapel was about to apply for recognition with the company. BAJ's one and only member resigned soon after this 'sweetheart' deal with Trinity Mirror but unfortunately the deal did serve its main purpose of thwarting the desire of more than 70 union members to be represented by the NUJ. Eventually, though the sale of the Racing Post in 2007 saw its new owners do the decent thing and sign a voluntary recognition deal with the NUJ. The result is that 13 years on, there is a large, strong and still growing NUJ chapel at the Racing Post.

The Chair and Committee of the Scotland Broadcasting Branch of the NUJ – the largest collective of trade union members working in broadcasting in the country – expresses the fullest support for our colleagues at Iran International. We stand by them in solidarity in their aspiration to be represented by the union of their choice as is their democratic and legal right. That union is the NUJ. We deplore the cynical manoeuvrings of the British Association of Journalists. We endorse unreservedly the position taken by the NUJ’s General Secretary and NEC Emergency Committee in pledging every measure available in helping members at Iran International pursue recognition for their chapel which has already demonstrated its ability and tenacity in promoting and protecting the rights of staff. In supporting the principles of democratic representation, press freedom and the right to work free from intimidation and harassment for our fellow members at Iran International, we demonstrate our commitment to those principles for journalists everywhere, at home and abroad. These principles are vital and inviolate and our members in Scotland will stand by the whole of the NUJ in demanding they are extended in full to our colleagues at Iran International. Chris Diamond, Chair, Scotland Broadcasting Branch

NUJ London Magazine Branch and its members stand in solidarity with NUJ Iran International Chapel in your fight to gain union recognition, and against the union-busting tactics of your management and the British Association of Journalists (BAJ). We are appalled at the behaviour of both your management and the BAJ in denying your right to be represented by the NUJ. We applaud your stand against this behaviour, and send our full support to those of you who have been put under management pressure in its attempt to force through its anti-democratic decision. We urge BAJ to do the right thing and step away from this deal to ensure a genuinely independent collective voice at Iran International. We are encouraging our branch members to join the social media campaign against this deal with the BAJ, and to appeal to the International Labour Organisation to take up your case. Please be assured that we will continue to monitor events in order to make clear our anger at the situation you have been placed in, and keep up support for your case. NUJ London Magazine Branch Committee

The action of the management of Iran International is particularly troubling as many of channel’s journalists have fled a government in Tehran that uses the same tactics to deny them their rights. This should not happen to journalists working in Britain - London is not Tehran. In Britain Journalists are free to choose their union. As in the BBC, the NUJ and the management can often work together to establish a fair and happy environment for all to work in. The management at Iran International should not fear working with the NUJ. Kasra Naji, special correspondent, BBC Persian

The National Union of Journalists BBC World Service branch, representing hundreds of journalists in dozens of language services, fully supports the efforts of NUJ members to achieve recognition at Iran International, where they represent the majority of journalists. The right to join a trade union of choice, without interference of bosses, is a legal right and important part of human rights. We call on the management of Iran International to respect human rights and stop trying to find a loophole. We urge the NUJ Iran International chapel to continue their struggle for recognition.

The NUJ BBC London branch wholeheartedly backs NUJ members seeking to gain union recognition at Iran International, where they represent most journalists. The branch opposes the attempt by the company's management to impose a representative from the British Association of Journalists on staff. We support the NUJ Iran International chapel in their campaign to have fair representation and urge them to continue their fight.
The NUJ National TV News chapel at the BBC fully supports the efforts of NUJ members to achieve recognition at Iran International, where they represent the majority of journalists. The attempt to impose a BAJ rep on staff goes against every principle of democratic representation and free trade unionism. A representative chosen by the management of a company is no representative at all. We urge the NUJ Iran International chapel to double their resolve and we support them in their desire to achieve free, fair and legitimate recognition of their collective voice.

The NUJ BBC Radio Current Affairs chapel offers support and solidarity to our fellow journalists at Iran International. We condemn the harassment and intimidation of NUJ members and their families and the Iranian government’s ongoing campaign to silence journalistic coverage of events in Iran and to undermine press freedom. We condemn the announcement by Iran International on Friday 3 July that it had signed a collective recognition agreement with the British Association of Journalists, a non-TUC affiliated organisation which had no presence, no members and no prior involvement at the company. The NUJ condemns any attempt to cynically and deliberately block an application for statutory recognition through an agreement with an organisation that has no democratic legitimacy and is a breach of workers’ rights. We call on Iran International and the British Association of Journalists to respect the legitimate rights of NUJ members to seek recognition with the union of their choice, not one imposed upon them.

The NUJ Digital Current Affairs chapel at the BBC fully supports the efforts of NUJ members working at Iran International to achieve recognition. They represent the majority of journalists and the attempt to impose a BAJ rep, chosen by the employer, goes against every principle of democratic representation and free trade unionism. We urge the NUJ Iran International chapel to double their resolve and we support them in their desire to achieve free, fair and legitimate recognition of their collective voice.
Reach joint NUJ chapel for print and web journalists at the Mirror, Star, Express and Reach celebrity magazines said: This joint chapel sends a message of solidarity to NUJ members at the London-based Persian language broadcaster Iran International. It condemns the British Association of Journalists for doing a quick, shabby backdoor deal with Iran International bosses designed to thwart the efforts of NUJ members there to win recognition. We know that the NUJ has been working for two years to support Iran International journalists who have faced harassment and threats to their families in Iran. Our fear is that by doing the bosses’ bidding, BAJ will endanger and undermine those journalists.

Dublin Freelance NUJ branch sends a message of solidarity our colleagues at the NUJ chapel at Iran International. Ní neart go cur le chéile. There is no strength without unity. Gerard Cunningham, branch chair.

The non-TUC organisation British Association of Journalists is a sweetheart management union purporting to represent workers, but only ever granted recognition in the media industry in order to frustrate the elected workplace representatives. It was formed just under thirty years ago to do just that by anti-trade unionists. No proud independent minded journalist should be fooled or want to be a member of such a rogue organisation. Solidarity must continue to ensure the NUJ membership at the Iran International gains the recognition needed to seek fair and decent terms and conditions at their workplace. All journalist’s need to be organised by a truly independent NUJ membership. All support must be given to our members to overcome a management that clearly wants to deny them their right to be represented by the union of their choice. John Fray NUJ member, Oxford branch.

We would like to offer you our support at this difficult time. We are shocked that your employer has chosen to undermine your democratic rights to trade union representation in this way. Being part of an NUJ chapel is crucial in securing a safe working environment for journalists. It's inspiring that members at Iran International have fought to organise and secure recognition in such difficult circumstances. We hope your bosses and BAJ see sense and respect the right of workers to choose their trade union. In solidarity, NUJ Leeds and Wakefield branch

Please be assured that Solent Branch members stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Iran International. Anne England, Branch Treasurer

As an NUJ member and union activist, including 19 years as father of the chapel at Reed Business Information (RBI), I know the value of the union to its members and society in protecting a free and fair press. At RBI we waged and won a 7.5 year campaign against derecognition - proof that determined campaigning triumphs in the end. Patric Cunnane.

Edinburgh & District Branch is appalled at the high-handed actions of management in their response to the Iran International Chapel’s seeking of recognition of the NUJ as their union of choice.We send fraternal greetings and pledge our support for any campaign that ensues. 

The NUJ Welsh Executive Council sends a message of solidarity to the NUJ chapel at Iran International and deplores the undemocratic and unprincipled BAJ deal denying colleagues their union of choice.

I can only imagine how frustrating it is to have your legitimate attempt to unionise to be stymied in this way. The one thing it makes clear is how terrified your bosses are of your collective strength and so how important it is to persevere. In the words of the 19th century abolitionist, Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will." Please know many of us stand in solidarity with you as you continue making those demands. Best, Gary Younge

Please accept my best wishes of solidarity and support to you and all NUJ members at Iran International. I am appalled to hear about your employer and BAJ, trampling on your rights as workers. I know that the NUJ and all its members are fully behind you at this time and I'm confident that you have the best people in your corner. In solidarity, Catherine Brereton, NEC rep, Book Branch

The world will be a more dangerous place if ever we lose the free press. Companies choosing the union that supports their staff Is totally counterproductive. Dear colleague you have my support but please take care of your safety. Best Regards, Dave Evitts

I am outraged by the behaviour of Iran International and the British Association of Journalists towards the National Union of Journalists’ Iran International Chapel. I understand the majority of staff at II are members of the NUJ and II’s management has been unforthcoming to requests to negotiate with that union. Despite II journalists’ attempts to secure NUJ recognition, it appears that II has suddenly elected to recognise the BAJ. The NUJ, with more than 30,000 members, is affiliated with the Trades Union Congress – a body granted legal status in the first years of the 20th century which now represents about 5.6 million members. The BAJ, which is not affiliated with the TUC, last year had 850 members (down from 1,114 in 2014). It is therefore understandable that II staff are members of the NUJ and wish it to represent them. This sudden action by II managers is underhand, denies their staff the opportunity to be represented by their union of choice and breaches their human rights. Bronwen Holly

Very sorry to hear from the GS about how your hard-fought-for right to representation by the union of your choice has been denied by a seedy backstairs deal. You will surely get there in the end and pdq I hope. Sending solidarity which I’m confident will be taken up by my branch, London Freelance, at our Monday Zoom meeting. If we can do anything to help your freelances do let us know. Phil Sutcliffe

Comrade NUJ members of the Iran International Chapel, I am writing in a personal capacity to encourage you to stand firm together and reject management’s moves to undermine your campaign for recognition of the NUJ at your workplace. Your employer’s moves are disgraceful divide and rule anti-union tactics. You should first reject management’s moves to push everyone towards the BAJ and then work together with NUJ officials furthering your push for NUJ recognition. I am writing this note in solidarity with you as NUJ members and as a life-long trade unionist, and to wish you every success as you take a stand against your employer’s tactics. In unity. Mick Holder, NUJ London Freelance Branch

Writing to express my support in your struggle to represent Iranian journalists. It must be dispiriting to face such a pantomime 'union' as BAJ. I'm just a freelance LIBNM member with a UK passport; but being in my 60s, I well remember some of the turbulence Persia and Iran have been through. Their people deserve real journalism, and their journalists deserve real support. Strength to your elbow, as we used to say - Susi Arnott

I fully support the stance of the NUJ in this situation. As a former FOC I know the importance of sticking together when threatened by management tactics if this kind. BAJ should hang their head in shame over their part in this flagrant breach of workers’ rights. Wishing all involved at Iran International a fair and speedy conclusion. Kind regards, Steve Usher, Former FOC at Express Newspapers.

To my fellow journalists and NUJ members at Iran International: best wishes and good luck in your fight. It is a truly deserving cause. David Phillips, freelance journalist

It is heart-breaking to read of the plight of NUJ members at Iran International who are being denied the right to be represented by the union of their choice. Reporting freely and fairly events inside and outside Iran is difficult enough but to do so whilst also facing bitter opposition within theIr own working environment is placing unnecessary stress and strain on journalists at Iran International. I hope that the management of the organisation comes to see necessity, and the wisdom, of recognising the NUJ as the sole representative of its journalistic workforce as soon as possible. Professor Ivor Gaber, UK representative at UNESCO‘s International Programme for the Development of Communication and NUJ Life Member

Solidarity to colleagues in Iran International. Dee Searle, London Freelance Branch

Don’t give up. You need the protection of a bona fide TUC-affiliated trade union so don’t be afraid to stand your ground and stick with the NUJ which has a proven track record of defying bullying tactics. Good luck. Roger Scott (NUJ Life Member)

Comrades, as an active NUJ trade unionist, in the London Freelance Branch, I want you to know of my solidarity in fighting for your right to organise in the trade union of your collective choice. I assure you that our Zoom Branch meeting, on 13 July, will discuss the recommendations contained in today’s letter, to NUJ membership, from Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ General Secretary. I will advocate, at this Monday’s Branch meeting, that the LFB support the NUJ line and to do whatever is necessary to ensure that what you advocate is attained. Fraternally and in solidarity  Larry Herman

Good morning from Dublin, not much I can do from here except to add my name for solidarity purposes, which is sometimes the only help we can give. Evelyn Conlon

The company's manoeuvring to avoid recognising the NUJ is shocking and contrary to the spirit of the law and the principles of a free press. As someone lucky enough to enjoy a strong chapel, I wish you the very best in the struggle for just recognition. Best wishes, Lindesay Irvine

Back in the early 1980s the old IOJ was used in an unsuccessful attempt to split the NUJ in Ireland on abortion. It didn't work, although it did succeed in undermining closed shop agreements for all workers by resorting to legal action. Real unions defend workers, not expose them to victimisation and exploitation. Padraig Yeates, 1913 Committee

Workers, not bosses, must choose their union. Peter Morrell

I just want to extend my love and support to my colleagues and fellow union members at Iran International. This kind of action by press executives is why being a member of a union like the NUJ is so important, and the actions of Iran International's bosses just reflect how vital and effective the NUJ is. I would also like to urge the BAJ to reconsider its position. Being complicit in forcing a union onto a workforce must surely go against all their principles and threatens to completely destroy their legitimacy as an organisation that represents their members' interests. Kirsten Foster

Do important that we support each other. Stay strong. John P Graham

Sadly, I am neither surprised nor shocked at the blacklegs’ “union” action. It is the latest in a long line of attempts to undermine genuine workers’ rights. As a proud life member of the NUJ I wish to add my support to highlight this undemocratic ploy and embarrass those behind it into a retreat. Geoff Meade
Full solidarity with colleagues at Iran International and their right to choose by which union they seek to be represented. From a former NUJ chapel FoC at Century Newspapers in Belfast and former chair of the Belfast and District branch of the NUJ. Kind regards, Robin Wilson

Dear comrades, I would like to express my support in your struggle for union recognition at Iran International. I am not sure how I can personally help, but I wish you success in your struggle. Graham Smillie, Liverpool

I once made the mistake of thinking the British Association of Journalists would help me in the career, they don’t in fact, the small, rude and seemingly anti-union , I urge you to re consider, Pip Robins

I give my unflinching support and solidarity to our colleagues in the Iran International struggle. Abu Shaw, editor and publisher of newspaper online in London. Aluta Continua.

Iran International, good luck with your application to secure NUJ recognition. Bernard Smyth

I am so sorry to hear of the difficulties you face at your workplace aided by the unprincipled BAJ. Your courage in standing up for legitimate representation at work and resisting intimidation is inspiring and you have my full support and, no doubt, that of trade unionists throughout the world. Yours in solidarity, Colin Bourne, Life Member

I was so sorry to hear of the blow to your brilliant campaign to secure NUJ recognition. It’s appalling that the employer seems to have come up with a shabby little backroom deal with the BAJ which would frustrate all your hard work. I know you have all have worked tirelessly to create a chapel that is one of the union’s most well-organised. Please be assured of my support and solidarity during this difficult time, and I wish you every success in challenging this egregious bit of manoeuvring, by both the employer and the BAJ. Barry McLoughlin, Life Member, North West Lancashire Branch.

Workers should choose their union – not their bosses! Alison MacDonald

I would like to offer my support to colleagues in Iran, with this message. I am a lone voice here, but I am most grateful to NUJ for recent support in these uncertain times. My thoughts and best wishes, Christine Finn, NUJ London freelance

To all those fighting for NUJ recognition in Iran - we support your cause. In solidarity! Best wishes, Andrew Cole

Deeply shocked to hear that journalists have been denied the union representation they want by the machinations of an irrelevant "union" with less than a thousand members compared to the NUJs 35,000. Particularly ironic that such dubious tactics have been used against journalists who have to report on one of the most hostile regimes in the world. The journalists at Iran International have my full support and I'm proud to express my solidarity with them. All the best, Alex Seaborne

I hope that you and yours are well and will stay so. As a life member of the NUJ, I can testify to the strength and solidarity of our union. It is your right to choose who represents you in any negotiation with management. Please make it clear that you have made your choice and that fellow NUJ members stand in solidarity with you. Good luck in your enterprise. Roddy Scot

Don't be bullied and don't give up! Here's wishing you all the strength to see your campaign through. Best wishes, Ian Cranna

Wishing you every success in your admirable campaign for union recognition, and all support in your vital, courageous work reporting Iran in the face of repressive measures against yourselves, your families and all who stand up for a free, independent media in your homeland. Sincerely Noel Russell

As a former journalist who worked in South Africa for decades, I fully support the right of the journalists in Iran to chose the union of their choice. Being a member of the SAUJ (South African Union of Journalists) was a great comfort during stressful times. I wish the Iranian journalists every success in their important work. Kind regards Cathy Stagg

I’ve been a member of the NUJ for nearly 30 years and I’m very proud of my union. The NUJ has a journalist code of practice which I wholeheartedly endorse, it calls upon its members to report the truth, be fair and honest. I needed the support of NUJ when I was treated unfairly by my employer and they gave me their support and negotiating skills. The NUJ will help and support you it’s members are always given the expertise and experience the union has. Yours in solidarity, Ann McDowell

As a member of the NUJ since 1960 I know that it is the only union that can be sure to fight for the rights of workers against repressive employers. I wish you strength to continue your fight for recognition and editorial freedom without fear of victimisation. In solidarity Patrick Kinnersly

Sending you all solidarity from and strength in pursuing the battle for media freedom and right to association. Your struggle is critical and vital for all of us as journalists, and our profession's integrity. Yours in solidarity, Gavin Kallmann

As an NUJ member living abroad I want to offer you my support. I have found being a member of the NUJ one of the best things I have done in my life - from getting free legal advice to meeting socially with other journalists and photographers. Being a member of a union is a right not an added privilege. Yours, in solidarity, Siobhan Wall, NUJ Netherlands Branch

I wish I could do more than say "don't let the buggers get you down." You have my full support, thoughts and best wishes. Barbara Jeffery, NUJ member for 68 years

I was outraged to hear that your efforts to secure recognition with your employers has been subverted (temporarily I hope) by the British Association of Journalists. BAJ of shame indeed. I had hoped that these sweethearts had become a thing of the past. I’m retired now but in my days with newspapers and the BBC we suffered the minor irritant of a handful of members of the Institute of Journalists, who regularly tried to undermine the strength of NUJ chapels. We stuck together and they remained an irrelevance. My very best wishes to you and I hope you will find a way to brush away the BAJ to the obscurity they deserve.
Fraternally, Steve Peacock, (retired member, former Exec.Producer BBC radio.)

I am a life member of the NUJ and of London Freelance branch, and I am writing to protest at the disgusting, unprofessional and underhand action of the British Association of Journalists over what is happening at Iran International. I have been a journalist and NUJ member since 1973 and in that time the BAJ has always been nothing but a tiny and unrepresentative number of people (see their website for proof of this). They have never had a grounding in any workplace and have been used by managements for union busting activities - this is obviously the tactic they are using here. They are not a real trade union so they pretend to be a professional group instead. It is quite clear from the facts of this case that they are still up to their old tricks and are relying on the threat of the removal of visas to force the workers to leave the NUJ. Nobody with any intelligence should be taken in by this attempt to side-step the rules that exist to protect workers. I urge the work force to do all they can to resist this attack on their rights and assure them of the support of myself and the NUJ - a democratic body of trade union journalists which really represents its 30,000 members. Paul Todd, Life member, London Freelance Branch

Please pass my solidarity and support on to the NUJ Chapel at Iran International. The behaviour of the management their employer is clearly aimed at intimidation of a vulnerable workforce and must be resisted, with the NUJ’s support. The position of the BAJ is disgraceful, but no more than you would expect from what has, since the first, been a rump organisation with no standing or credibility as a trade union and which clearly operates against the interests of working people. I remember the BAJ doing similar deals with managements as far back as the mid1980s, when I was an NUJ NEC member. They were a menace then and they are useless now. With best wishes to the chapel, Jane McCarten, Magazine Branch.

To our colleagues in Iran International, Please be assured of my support and good wishes. Helen O'Callaghan, freelance journalist, Ireland.

I support your struggle and right as journalists to freely choose a union to represent your interests and not have a body imposed by management working with so-called 'moderate' voices in the newsroom. Good luck. Michael Gillard 

To my fellow Iranian NUJ members: Keep fighting. Jeff Farrell

I was sorry to hear of how you have been treated by your management and wanted to send you warm wishes in the hope that you can continue to get the right solution for your chapel. It's always unpleasant and stressful when you get projected into these situations, though the togetherness and support of NUJ colleagues does usually help bring out the best in people, when faced with the worst. Marcus Relton

I stand in solidarity with my friends and colleagues at NUJ Iran International and BBC Persian service in the face of ongoing intimidation. Graeme Keyes, cartoonist

Following our General Meeting last night our members were appalled by news from our NUJ delegate of the failure of Iran International to recognise the NUJ in its editorial bargaining unit.

We have circulated the NUJ reports of the dispute to our delegates and asked that they share this as widely as possible and send their own messages of support.

NUJ members at Iran International should be heartened to know that grassroots trade unionists are fully behind them. Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Council members will follow the dispute closely and support and salute you for your stance in defence of the right for Trade Unionists to seek recognition through the Union of their choice. Best wishes, Spencer Barnshaw, secretary, Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union Council

As a fellow journalist and union member, I'm outraged to hear about your employer's efforts to force you to join a fake union. Keep on fighting against this repression of your rights - I'm standing with you. Rosemary Collins

The NUJ Glasgow branch sends support and solidarity to NUJ members seeking to organise and gain recognition at Iran International. Management appears to have deployed familiar tactics to thwart the democratic attempts of a legitimate, member-led union through promoting a management-friendly alternative.


Tags: , iran international, baj, british association of journalists, trade union recognition, solidarity