Real Say, Better PAy

  • 20 Feb 2024

The NUJ has achieved union recognition at PA Media.

For several years, editorial staff at PA Media campaigned to achieve collective power. In June, the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) responsible for determining union recognition approved automatic recognition as over 50 per cent of journalists within the relevant cohort at PA are NUJ members. Recognition is important as it allows for the ability to negotiate in an organised way with management on core issues like pay (“collective bargaining”). 

The CAC’s finding is a significant boost to campaigning efforts and is thanks to a concerted effort by PA chapel reps to enable a real say for editorial staff at the company. The committee met in March in relation to a decision on the overall PA bargaining unit.

Power in union recognition

Achieving union recognition means NUJ members at PA can properly negotiate on pay and other terms and conditions to improve the working lives of editorial staff. 

Editorial staff deserve to have fair representation, democratic decision-making, and an independent voice on key issues. Internal staff forums have a place but ultimately decision-making still lies in the hands of senior management.

Union recognition means all editorial staff covered by the union agreement can choose to participate equally and vote in determining the way forward, backed by an independent union with access to expertise, experience and legal advice. It means an obligation on both sides to negotiate on an equal footing to try and reach agreement and an organised way to resolve any disputes that may arise.

The NUJ has achieved wins for its thousands of members who work in a wide spectrum of editorial roles including journalism, PR and communications. Several organisations across the sector engage meaningfully with the union to reach negotiated fair deals for members, and the union can now bargain effectively for editorial staff at PA, to improve pay and conditions through collective bargaining.

Did you know…

  • It is your legal right to join a union
  • By law, you do not have to reveal your union membership to PA management even if directly asked
  • It is against the law to be victimised/discriminated against as a result of your NUJ membership or union activity
  •  The NUJ will never disclose your union membership to PA management and your colleagues on the chapel committee treat all membership information and contact in the strictest confidence
  • As membership covers a wide range of roles within journalism, the NUJ is there to support you throughout your entire career, fighting your corner

 "I joined the union because I believe it is the best way to ensure everyone across the company is paid fairly. As a homeworker in a fairly obscure part of the company, I often feel quite isolated, and the union is a great way to feel more connected. We are stronger together and I'm proud to be part of something that is working to benefit my colleagues as well as myself."


"I joined the NUJ because, as with every other member, it's my right to join it. I joined the NUJ because other PA employees joined it. More PA employees should join for the same reason! There is no more effective way of being heard than as one voice with a unified purpose. In a climate of increasing inequality and insecurity, its reassuring to know we have a union that supports PA employees and their needs."


"I became an NUJ member not long into my first job in journalism many years ago. While I’ve never needed the union’s help personally I believe in the principle and just think it makes sense for people to be part of an organisation which is there to support them and colleagues if needed."


Latest news

There is currently a significant discount available for new joiners from PA – join now to help boost our campaign. For details, please email [email protected]

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The FT chapel meeting passed the following motion in support of PA unanimously.

"The FT Group chapel sends its wholehearted support and solidarity to fellow NUJ members at PA Media, formerly the Press Association, as they begin formal negotiations over union recognition.

"The negotiations follow a long campaign by members to boost numbers in order to establish collective bargaining at PA, in order to achieve fairness and equality across the workforce on pay and working conditions.

"We congratulate the PA Chapel on their historic achievement of having their application for statutory recognition accepted by the Central Arbitration Committee, and stand in support with them as they begin initial negotiations over the size and scope of their proposed bargaining unit within editorial.

"We call on PA's senior management team to approach the negotiations in good faith and to acknowledge the strength of feeling within the workforce which has led to this achievement."

"It is vital that you succeed, not just for the benefits it will bring your members, but the company itself. It took a while for the NUJ to achieve recognition at the Racing Post, but it finally did just it in 2008 after a lot of hard work from our FOCs at the time and head office. Having joined our committee four years ago I know what a positive influence we are and for the most part we have a management that constructively engages with us and, importantly, listens. We wish you every success in your endeavours and hope that your management realises that recognition can be a positive for both you - and them."Racing Post chapel committee

NUJ members not employed by PA Media can also show their support by sending a message of solidarity to [email protected] 

What our members at PA say

"The NUJ offers more career development opportunities than our employer does, which has been of huge benefit to me early in my career. Through being a member I have undertaken more up to date legal training on defamation, copyright and contempt of court. I’m also due to undertake training on newsroom leadership next month, all free of charge. You simply do not get these opportunities if you’re not a member."

“I have had two occasions in the past twenty years when I needed an NUJ representative to give me advice and advocate on my behalf in disciplinary proceedings. On both occasions my rep came with me and spoke on my behalf. Needless to say I’m still here and the rep did an amazing job during the proceedings. I have also had two occasions to require the services of a lawyer in dealings with the police - I was totally exonerated on both occasions and the advocacy of the NUJ-supplied lawyer was invaluable. 

"During the financial crash when job cuts were made across the board in PA, the NUJ helped our office to formulate a cost savings plan which meant we did not incur any involuntary redundancies. We could not have begun to negotiate this deal with the company without the help and support of our NUJ branch."

"I’ve been a NUJ member my entire working life - I see my membership as an insurance policy for my career. Over the years I’ve benefited from advice on a whole range of work and personal matters on countless occasions - from fellow members and union reps alike - and attended some great training courses. 

I felt really supported when I needed a union rep to accompany me to a work meeting. Being part of the PA chapel has brought me closer to colleagues and has been a great way to get to know those in other parts of the team who I don’t work always work with as closely. Through the NUJ I’ve made a host of contacts with members working at other media organisations."

Alan Jones, Industrial Correspondent 

"A few hours after starting as a junior reporter on a small weekly newspaper in North Wales over 40 years ago, the editor gave me an application form to join the NUJ, explaining that everyone was in the union and it was important we supported each other to get decent pay and conditions, as well as offering help and advice on anything from training to disciplinary issues. 

The media industry has changed beyond recognition since then, but the reasons for being in a union haven’t. 

 Being in the NUJ is a badge of honour, one which is worn by thousands of journalists across the country, and by hundreds of thousands in other journalist trade unions in other countries. 

 It means you have a better chance of joining with colleagues to improve pay and conditions in the face of increasing workloads and continued low wages – the very reasons so many people leave PA. The union will provide help in negotiating with the company – something which hasn’t happened in a serious way for decades. 

It also means you are proud of your profession and can get involved in campaigns by the union on issues affecting journalists. 

It doesn’t mean you can’t discuss personal arrangements/requests with your line manager on topics such as flexible working, sabbaticals, time off for a health issue, write a book, or to ask for more money. 

The fact that the company is spending so much time and effort trying to stop the NUJ being formally recognised should prove to everyone that it’s a good idea to be in the union, on the side of journalists. 

As a lifelong NUJ member I have seen first hand the good work the union does across the media, saving jobs, increasing pay, improving conditions such as hours and holidays, often in the face of opposition from employers. 

I have no hesitation in urging anyone to join so we have a better chance of making PA a place where journalists want to work, and stay, rather than a staging post to a better job."

Read the TUC's piece on the journey to achieving recognition. 

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