IFJ condemns actions of Iran International to frustrate NUJ recognition process

  • 14 Jul 2020

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has pledged to mobilise its affiliates the world over in the campaign to allow the journalists their choice of union.

The IFJ is giving full support to the NUJ in its effort to win trade union recognition to represent and collectively bargain on behalf of its members working at Iran International.

For many months, Iran International has refused to engage with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the UK government's arbitrator on industrial relations, regarding an application for recognition by the NUJ. They suddenly revealed it had signed a recognition deal with an obscure journalists' union, the British Association of Journalists (BAJ), which had no members and no prior involvement in the workplace.

The NUJ has called on supporters of trade union rights in the UK and globally to condemn the BAJ, which has signed a sweetheart deal with Iran International, despite the overwhelming number of journalists there being members of the NUJ who were engaged in a recognition bid. The deal involves the appointment by the company of a senior manager to represent staff, who are now being put under intense pressure to join this union, which is not affiliated to the TUC and has no international trade union connections.

Iran International, a Persian language television channel, is owned by Volant Media UK Ltd.

The NUJ believes that it was "wholly unethical and unprincipled for any union worthy of the name to trample over the rights of workers, or to deny a collective voice through the union they choose, rather than one chosen by an employer."

The IFJ has pledged to mobilise its affiliates the world over in the campaign now launched by the NUJ to support members at Iran International and their right to be represented by their union of choice; not one foisted on them by management.

In the UK, this campaign will involve the TUC and wider trade union movement and the general public in the UK to offer their solidarity to the Iran International journalists and will be raising the issue in Parliament via the NUJ's cross-party Parliamentary Group. Furthermore, the NUJ is prepared to fight the case through the courts.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Our members have worked hard to build up their NUJ chapel and to progress collective bargaining to secure a genuinely independent collective voice at work. That voice has been denied them by the actions of BAJ, just as our recognition application was in its final straits. Union-busting should have no place in our workplaces or our society.
"Our members at Iran International have faced intimidation and harassment for their work as journalists – that their rights of freedom of association should be trampled on in this way is a grave injustice and one that the NUJ will do all it can to rectify."

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, added:

"We condemn Iran International for what is clearly a union-busting operation that is in breach of international labour standards and cannot be tolerated. We will give whatever help would be needed by the NUJ to take this issue up to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) if a solution is not found.
"We have confidence that the aspirations by these journalists for social justice will be upheld by the ILO systems specifically designed to protect their freedom to set out their legitimate claims, and to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

"IFJ leaders are fully behind the NUJ campaign and will be taking steps to mobilise journalists in 146 countries to put their weight behind this campaign."

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