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NUJ photographers to refuse Guardian contracts for a day

25 September 2009

Photographers are being asked to refuse to enter into contracts to work for the Guardian on a specific day in protest against recent changes to their terms and conditions. The NUJ is set to designate this 'Guardian day of rest'.

The dispute relates to a decision by The Guardian to refuse to pay fees for reusing commissioned photographs. The union wants the company to improve its offer to all freelance photographers, after it was able to negotiate an agreement that covers those working under retainer contracts for the paper.

After NUJ intervention, it has been agreed that over a dozen photographers who work under contract for The Guardian will agree a licence to be paid reuse fees on a sliding scale for a five-year period after the end of the contract.

However, this only applies to contract photographers. The NUJ is demanding improved conditions for all photographers commissioned by the paper.

The day on which the protest will take place will be specified nearer the time, minimising the advance notice that will be given to the company.

John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser, said:

"We're pleased to have reached an acceptable deal for contractors. Now we're looking to The Guardian to show the same willingness to review its position for all photographers. Our coordinated 'day of rest' will show management just how strongly our members feel about these changes."

The Guardian wrote to all freelance and contract photographers in July stating that it would no longer pay reuse fees for photographs that they commission. Under standard terms and conditions, a photographer will only normally allow their images to be used for the purposes set out in the original commission.

If the organisation wants to use the photographs again in the future, they have to pay an extra fee. Many photographers depend on re-use fees for a significant proportion of their income.

The union sent a letter signed by over 900 photographers to Chris Elliott, the managing editor of The Guardian, last week. Hundreds more photographers from around Europe have now added their name in support of the campaign.

John Toner added:

"We will be calling on all photographers who work for the Guardian to refuse to enter into contracts to work on a specific day. It is a sad indictment of The Guardian's position that we have been forced in to this position. I fail to understand why it is refusing to cover fees that are recognised as fair pay across the industry."

Tags: , photographers, guardian, protests, fees, terms and conditions, copyright, reuse, newspapers, contracts