Thursday, 16 February 2012

NUJ to Place its Tanks on the Lawns of News Int

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet (Pic Jess Hurd)
WRITING exclusively for this blog, NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet unveils her union's bold plan to replace the News International Staff Association with NUJ muscle.

By Michelle Stanistreet
NUJ General Secretary

THE CRACKS began to show at News International last year in the wake of the closure of the News of the World. Journalists and staff at the paper lost their livelihoods overnight. Some reporters were plunged into the most Kafkaesque of circumstances – sacked without a penny for alleged “wrongdoing” without even being told what they were supposed to have done wrong, deprived of an internal investigatory or appeal process because it might compromise a potential police investigation. Reputational damage, financial and emotional limbo – these people have been hung out to dry.
And now the bodies are mounting. It is clear in the wake of last week’s arrest of five Sun journalists that, no matter how loyal or committed to the News International cause journalists have been, their careers and livelihoods are now nothing more than collateral damage in a mission with only one purpose - the preservation at all costs of Rupert Murdoch’s empire.
The NUJ has been defending many journalists at News International – reporters, subs, photographers and others – who have given decades of their life to Murdoch’s newspapers yet who have been cynically and brutally dispensed with in a consistent corporate policy of damage limitation and obfuscation.
The corporate strategy has been nothing if not consistent – blame those lower down the rung and ringfence those truly responsible at the top. The actions of the Management and Standards Committee show there is now no way back.

As well intentioned as those individuals may be who are involved in News International Staff Association – set up by Murdoch as a union-busting move to legally block the NUJ from seeking recognition – the organisation is not capable of providing journalists with independent representation and genuine protection. Murdoch gave it life, he sustains it with his own money - the links are seamless.

So NISA needs to go. Journalists need to have real collective protection and representation – for that they need a proper trade union, they need the NUJ.

My message to all journalists at News International is clear – it’s time for action. If you want protection that’s independent, that puts journalists and journalism first – you need to join the NUJ now.
If you want a collective independent voice sticking up for your rights at work, a union that puts journalistic ethics first and doesn’t pay mere lipservice to the fundamental principle of protecting your sources, you need to join the NUJ now.
I’ve taken calls from many whistleblowers and sources in recent days who are frankly terrified that they will be arrested or sacked any day now. They cannot believe that the confidentiality they were promised has been breached.
Change is possible. Just as the establishment of NISA was a loophole in the recognition legislation served up to Murdoch by politicians in his thrall, so there is a loophole that will open up the door to real trade union protection.
If ten per cent of journalists at News International say they want NISA to be derecognised, the case can be made and won. With derecognition comes the opportunity for recognition of the NUJ.
I need journalists on the titles to get in touch, to join the NUJ and to come together to form an organising NUJ chapel.
Two eminent QCs – Geoffrey Robertson and John Hendy – are working with me on a range of legal measures to challenge the actions of the MSC and to provide help and support to members at News International before more members are thrown to the wolves. I will need journalists willing to be part of this legal challenge.
There’s no time to wait. The company has shown where loyalty and committed service leads to. Journalists need an independent voice like never before. It’s time to join the NUJ and work together to stand up for journalists and journalism across News International.
Get in touch today – email . Join the NUJ at  

Join Today – Join the Campaign for NUJ recognition at News International


  1. Anonymous16 February 2012 15:12

    Wow, it's like the NUJ have forgotten that these union-hating scabs at NI haven't just spent years avoiding paying subs to a proper union, they've also spent years undermining the whole trade union movement in their papers.

  2. Anonymous16 February 2012 19:23

    Well said Michelle. The NUJ has been fantastic in helping me and some former NI colleagues. I can't thank them enough for their support. In the current circumstances, I would encourage all NI staff to join - it doesn't cost a lot and gives enormous peace of mind knowing you can get independent help and legal advice if you need it.

  3. Charles Rae16 February 2012 19:59

    Anonymous clearly does not have the courage of his warped criticisms or he would have put his name to his shameful post. I was there on day 1 of wapping and we were not union hating scabs. We pleaded wih the NUJ of its day - we were all fully paid up members - to support us at wapping or like the print unions have a legal ballot as to whether we would take industrial action or not. The NUJ said no and walked away from us. They deserted up. And as a former Industrial editor of the Sun we had very good relationships with most unions. It was the NUJ who turned its backs on us and it is pity that it has taken a crisis like this for the NUJ to try to recruit members now.
    Where has the NUJ been all these years.
    I hope Michelle Stanistreet and her colleagues have learned from the lessons of their predecesors and that it is he members of a union which are the most important ingredient and not ignoring them when they need them most.

    1. Miranda18 February 2012 14:12

      Your memory seems to be rocky on too many scores to take issue with here. But I would like to know what "support", exactly, you were asking the NUJ to provide.

      My understanding is that the Sun chapel had voted to abide by an NUJ instruction not to go to Wapping until a deal had been reached with the print unions; then, under a barrage of bribes and threats, you voted to ignore the instruction.

      All I can suppose you now wanted was NUJ backing in crossing picket lines mounted under the TUC's "collective policy", to which your union was a signatory - and which, incidentally, the NI chapels had earlier ratified, again through democratic votes.

      I find it somewhat hard to believe that your "plea" was for some strategy which would allow NI journalists to JOIN the strike. Your long-term memory might not be entirely intact, but surely you must recall the lead story you personally wrote for the first Wapping-produced Sun edition, which carried the headline, "Good Morning Britain" with the sub-head, "We beat strike thugs"..?

      If I've got anything wrong here, hopefully you'll put me right.

    2. charles rae20 February 2012 19:53

      My long time memory is perfectly in tact Miranda. You call it a barrage of bribes and threats, It is not how I remember the meeting we had in the Tower Hotel. My recollection was that we did ask the NUJ to support us and open a dialogue with the management, which hopefully in the long term would lead to the union being recognised. I also remember quite a bit of discussion of the validity of the NUJ instruction which did not have a mandate from its members to go on strike. Whereas the print workers union had given the same facility to its members who as you know voted to strike and did so.
      And yes I do remember the story I wrote with the headline Good Morning Britain with the sub head "we beat strike thugs" - absolutely factually correct as outside thousand of people, print workers and various hangers on were using violence to try to bring the place to a halt.

    3. Miranda21 February 2012 13:43

      Even with the benefit of hindsight, you don't seem to grasp how invidious it would have been for the NUJ to meet your demands.

      To put this in perspective: There were a great many more journalists embroiled in 1980s new tech/union-crushing disputes than merely those in the Murdoch camp. (I, for eg, worked for a regional paper where we stuck by the TUC "accord" and were locked out for months alongside printers we regarded as allies.)

      By granting you a special dispensation to strike-break, the NUJ would effectively have been lending support (and union funds!) to alliance members with one hand while trashing their efforts with the other.

      On your own local level: Just suppose for a moment that a ballot had been held ... and you at the Sun voted not to strike, while the Times and Sunday Times voted the other way. What then? Was the NUJ expected to aid and abet a prolonged ordeal of its own members outside the wire for the sake of those merrily rolling the presses within?

      As for your plea for the NUJ to "open a dialogue" with Murdoch - I think you will find there had been talks aplenty by the time you cast your vote to go to Wapping. All completely and utterly fruitless.

    4. Reply
  4. Anonymous16 February 2012 22:38

    Michelle is on Newsnight right now confirming everything here

  5. Anonymous17 February 2012 15:21

    Well said, Charles

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