Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Editor’s comment – Summer 2015‏

In the wake of our “summer of discontent”, a season of strikes bringing widespread disruption to transport networks and other public services, it is easy to forget the good (and vital) work that most trade unions do on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, proposals by Government ministers for tougher legislation on unions are finding an increasing echo in stridently anti-union editorials and commentaries in the national and regional press. Outside the far left, which has a vested interest in promoting industrial militancy, few voices have been raised in support of trade unionism. But in the Institute of Journalists, which is in the unique position of being both a professional institution and a trade union at one and the same time, we know and understand only too well the importance of providing effective, independent representation for our members, and, while we have seldom supported or endorsed “industrial action”, we have frequently had to do battle in other ways against unscrupulous management.

This Institute has been championing the interests of our members for over 130 years, and seeking to secure for them a fairer deal, better pay and conditions, and the respect to which they are entitled. This has often entailed tricky negotiations, and occasional stand-offs, with senior management in the media industry – although we have always striven to do so without resorting to the sort of provocative, largely inaccurate and invariably counter-productive “bosses versus workers” rhetoric which has so often been deployed by other, more politically-motivated, unions in their dealings with employers. As a union we are completely independent and that means politically neutral and fair-minded in representing our membership. But as we have frequently had to demonstrate at industrial tribunals and even in court, we are willing and able to be tough and to “tell it like it is”.

Now, with the political and industrial climate increasingly hostile to trade unionism, our Institute must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other unions in rejecting the Government’s anti-union agenda and explaining to the public the benefits of trade unionism. Policies born of a knee-jerk reaction are never very sensible, and it is not right or just that we should face a raft of union-bashing legislation purely because Ministers are rattled by a few rail strikes. We owe it to all journalists to make the case for strong, independent trade unionism.

Andy Smith