NUJ urges media owners to follow government advice on Covid-19
17 March 2020
The NUJ has called on employers to follow UK government advice to facilitate home working to the greatest extent possible, stop unessential travel and avoid unnecessary social contact in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The union has also reminded journalists covering the Covid-19 pandemic to exercise maximum care in their public interactions.
Clearly the press has a duty to continue to work and report news and advice on the pandemic, but needs to do so in safety. Employers must put in place technological and other solutions in place to enable this.
The UK Prime Minister told Londoners to pay special attention to the advice as the capital is a hotspot for the virus and most deaths so far have occurred in the capital.
Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary said:
"At a time when the public needs verifiable, reliable information journalists play a critical role. It is important that media organisations have plans in place to minimise risks, maintain production and allow workers to protect themselves and their families.”
Laura Davison, national organiser, said:
“Employers must safeguard their staff and follow the government’s advice in response to the Covid-19 situation. Journalists are already contracting the virus and their health and the health of their families and community must be paramount. Home working must be allowed where practicable and otherwise all safeguards must be put in place. It is times like this we need a responsible and healthy staff to report on the unfolding situation and as an important source of advice, acting as a bulwark to rumour and false stories. The NUJ will be doing all it can to help members during this time.”
Jim Mullen, Reach chief executive, wrote to staff saying government advice should be followed, but added: “For some of our colleagues, including those involved in production, printing and distribution, it may not be possible to work from home. I appreciate how important these roles are as we continue to serve our readers and customers and I am grateful for these teams’ support. The local management will work directly with their teams to provide controls and manage flexibility to make sure we do everything we can to come through this together.”
The NUJ is liaising with reps to find out how employers are responding. If you have an issue, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org