TUC Congress condemns British Association of Journalists (BAJ) behaviour at Iran International
14 September 2020
The TUC Congress today has unanimously passed an NUJ motion condemning the actions of the non-TUC-affiliated British Association of Journalists (BAJ) in striking a behind-closed-doors recognition deal with the London-based broadcaster Iran International, a move exploited by the company to try and thwart the NUJ’s bid for recognition at the company.
The motion reaffirms the right of workers to be collectively represented by a union of their choice, as protected under Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and commits the TUC and affiliates to robustly campaigning to reform the existing UK trade union legislation to ensure that cynical union-busting moves are made unlawful.
Journalists at Iran International, who have built an active NUJ chapel over the past three years, were stunned in July to receive a company announcement of the deal with BAJ and to learn that their BAJ “union rep” was an appointed senior manager at the company. Following a major NUJ campaign to raise awareness of the deal, BAJ made a public statement to Press Gazette stating it was withdrawing from the recognition agreement, and confirmed directly to the NUJ that this was being done with “immediate effect”.
Yet in the ongoing recognition application to the CAC, Volant, the company which owns Iran International, has maintained that it has struck a second secret deal with BAJ, which it contends should block the NUJ’s application.
For years the NUJ has been supporting journalists experiencing harassment and intimidation from the Iranian state, in response to the targeted harassment of journalists and their family members based in Iran – siblings and parents of journalists have been hauled in for questioning, detained in solitary confinement, had their assets frozen, and instructed to tell their relatives to quit their jobs as journalists in the UK and return to Iran.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"This unequivocal support for our members at Iran International comes at an important time, when our efforts to secure NUJ recognition face ever more bizarre twists and turns. Union busting should have no place in our society, and workers should be free to organise collectively without fear of reprisals or bullying. In a week when two of our NUJ reps at Iran International are appealing the company’s spurious decision to make them redundant, it is important for the trade union movement to collectively call out union-busting behaviour and victimisation. The NUJ will continue to do all we can to stand up for our members and defend their human rights – supported with solidarity and support from all those who genuinely care about workers’ rights."