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Guardian ‘day of rest’ for photographers

THE NUJ is set to designate a "Guardian day of rest" when it will ask photographers to refuse to enter into contracts to work for the paper on a specific day in protest against recent changes to their terms and conditions.

Protest outside the Guardian; photo © Marcus Bensasson
The protest outside the Guardian on 1 September.

The union wants the company to improve its offer to all freelance photographers, after it was able to negotiate an agreement that covers those working under retainer contracts for the paper.

The dispute relates to a decision by the Guardian to refuse to pay fees for re-using commissioned photographs. After NUJ intervention it has been agreed that over a dozen photographers who work under contract for the Guardian will agree a licence to be paid re-use fees on a sliding scale for a five-year period after the end of the contract.

However, this only applies to contract photographers, and the union is demanding improved conditions for all photographers commissioned by the paper.

The day on which the protest will take place will be specified nearer the time, minimising the advance notice that will be given to the company.

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner, said: "We're pleased to have reached an acceptable deal for contractors. Now we're looking to the Guardian to show the same willingness to review its position for all photographers. Our coordinated 'day of rest' will show management just how strongly our members feel about these changes."

In July the Guardian wrote to all freelance and contract photographers stating that it would no longer pay re-use fees for photographs that they commission.

Under standard terms and conditions a photographer will only normally allow their images to be used for the purposes set out in the original commission.

If the organisation wants to use the photographs again in the future they have to pay an extra fee. Many photographers depend on re-use fees for a significant proportion of their income.

Last week the union sent a letter signed by over 900 photographers to Chris Elliott, the managing editor of the Guardian. Hundreds more photographers from around Europe have now added their name in support of the campaign.

John added: "We will be calling on all photographers who work for the Guardian to refuse to enter into contracts to work on a specific day. It is a sad indictment of the Guardian's position that we have been forced in to this position. I fail to understand why it is refusing to cover fees that are recognised as fair pay across the industry."

The fight to safeguard fees at the Guardian is part of a union-wide campaign against media cutbacks.

Last modified: 28 Sep 2009 - © 2009 contributors
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