Tuesday 7 June around the UK

It’s our day of action

FREELANCE members of the NUJ will be the focus of a day of action to highlight issues such as low pay and copyright abuse. The day, on Tuesday 7 June, will see various initiatives around the country, including a demonstration at the London offices of BBC Worldwide and a presentation to members of the Scottish Parliament.

The day was proposed by general-secretary, Jeremy Dear, at a conference of freelances, held in November, in Manchester. He said: "The freelance day of action is an initiative in which the whole union should participate. Staff and freelance journalists have common concerns and face common problems created by common employers. By acting collectively we can assist each other in improving staff pay and freelance rates, resisting the copyright grabs and making sure all journalists are properly rewarded for the professional job they do. I urge every NUJ member, chapel and branch to get involved in the day of action."

Freelance Organiser John Toner added: "The Freelance Day of Action is a welcome opportunity to place freelance issues at the centre of NUJ thinking. I hope as many chapels as possible hold a meeting to discuss how they might help the freelances who work regularly for their particular publications. I would especially ask them to consider rates and rights - what does their company pay and what licence for use do they ask for in return? I also hope freelances will support the events across the country."

Some of the events will be more social than industrial, with the aim of bringing freelances together, isolation being a concern identified in a survey of "freelance well-being", conducted recently by the union. Swindon, Cardiff and Yorkshire are among the places where such events will be taking place.

Ginny Clark, chair of the West of Scotland Freelance branch, said: "Scottish freelances are staging an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament on the day of action, which will be launched at a special reception for MSPs and NUJ members. Originally a West of Scotland Freelance branch initiative, members of Edinburgh Freelance branch and Glasgow branch have also joined the project to help drive the plans forward."

Following the launch, it is hoped the exhibition will go "on tour" to colleges, universities, local authorities and other media and trade union events. Clark added: "The aim of the exhibition is to celebrate the diversity and achievement of NUJ freelances, while highlighting the attacks upon our profession, such as low pay and copyright grabs, which not only pose a threat to journalists - but also to press freedom."

Summary of events:

Planned events range from mainfestations to draw attention to egregious clients to social gatherings simply to bring freelances together. These are the details the Freelance has at present:

  • The day's events in London begin with a gathering to express concerns - not a picket - at BBC Worldwide - the magazines division, home of Radio Times etc. BBCW operates a particularly obnoxious copyright grab which they have so far refused to discuss with the union. With the chapel's fraternal support, freelance members will be leafleting and making nice outside Worldwide's building, Woodlands, 80, Wood Lane, White City, 8.45-10.30am. All welcome, branch banners a plus.
  • For details of the Edinburgh exhibition contact the Scottish Office
  • Members in the North West are organising a social in the Manchester office - on Thursday 9 June They decided on a social because the one thing people continually ask about, apart from training, is the chance to get together with other freelances. For time and more info contact kath@northern-stories.fsnet.co.uk
  • There will be leafletting of the Yorkshire Post and a Yorkshire lunch: contact diane@dianeparkin.co.uk
  • Calderdale branch is organising an evening "practical workshop" for freelances in the media (non-NUJ members also welcome) at 7.30pm in the White Lion function room, Hebden Bridge
  • A social event is planned for Welsh freelances in Cardiff, at the Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, Cardiff at 7.30pm: contact cath.janes@gmail.com
  • Bristol members are setting up an evening event in the Tobacco Factory which aims to bring together Bristol chapel reps, freelances, local management and Branch officials. There will be speakers from different sectors (print, broadcasting - TBC), a free-to-members supper and drinks, and a social time too. For time and more info contact christina@zaba.com
  • Freelance members in Bristol will also be meeting with Chapel representatives in the lobby of the Bristol Evening Post at lunchtime - for details contact christina@zaba.com.
  • There will be a get-together in Swindon: contact mail@diharris.co.uk
  • All chapels were asked to hold meetings to discuss freelance issues and how staff and freelances can best work together for mutual benefit, especially NUJ agreements covering both employed and self-employed members.
  • The Guardian chapel was considering the idea but is now preoccupied having rejected management's pay offer.

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