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Scottish Office steps up late payers pursuit

SQUEEZING money owed to freelances in Scotland out of their clients is a task that's developing a higher profile at the Glasgow-based NUJ Scottish Office.

Scottish Organiser Paul Holleran told the Freelance, "We did persuade an agency in Edinburgh to cough up a payment after they lifted a film review and sent it to another paper.

"Angela Austin, our persuasive assistant organiser took up the case with her usual charm. This is just one example of the successes achieved after we took a strategic decision to implement a two-step debt pursuit. Angela calls, explaining she is the last step before court and charms them into coughing up. She has negotiated thousands of pounds for members this year alone.

"Thompsons (the NUJ's solicitors) in Scotland have just agreed to work closer with the NUJ office to handle the second step... court action. The main culprits have been magazines and the occasional book publisher as well as a few newspapers. We did use another debt collecting lawyer last year for a breach of contract and won £6k for a member in court."

Meanwhile, in the NUJ Freelance Office in London, "Policing the police has taken up most of work. This shouldn't become routine," said Freelance Organiser John Toner, in his report back to the NUJ"s annual conference in Belfast in April. When the union has the opportunity, said John, "we should pursue legal action whenever they assault etc our members." But, said John, the problem for most of our members is not the police, but the publishers. Publishers impose on freelances "absurd indemnity clauses shifts cancelled at short notice, casuals kept for years with half-promises that are then severed."

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