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April 27, 2016updated 03 Jan 2018 10:39am

Vice UK accused by NUJ of ‘old-fashioned union-busting ruse’ with proposal for a ‘staff council’

By Dominic Ponsford

Youth media brand Vice has been accused of “old-fashioned union-busting” by offering membership of a staff association as an alternative to recognising the National Union of Journalists.
Around 200 Vice staff at the London office were told at a meeting yesterday that the publisher had rejected a request from the NUJ for official recognition and the right to bargain with management on behalf of employees.
Vice said in a statement: “We are always engaging with our staff to improve the benefits and experience at Vice UK for all of our employees. To build a progressive, 21st century media company is a constantly evolving process.
“We’re going about this by encouraging a dynamic and flexible working culture and giving a range of benefits to our staff including company equity, competitive salaries, a Vice pension scheme, enhanced maternity pay and life insurance.”
The NUJ said in a letter to Vice management on 14 March: “The NUJ has clear majority of support of the editorial workforce and is prepared to provide that information in confidence to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) or ACAS.”
But Vice EMEA chief executive Matt Elek said in an email to staff that the union had shown “a concerning lack of transparency from them about who they are purporting to represent here”.
He said: “The NUJ are used to working with old print media businesses and structures – they are not used to innovative, digital workplaces like this where the culture has always been to encourage flexibility and allow people work across different departments.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The accusation that the NUJ has not been transparent in its discussions with Vice management is simply untrue. It’s a shame that the company has proven so resistant to listening to its own staff and facilitating what they want – a collective voice at work.
“That the NUJ and it’s 30,000 members – including those at Vice – are not used to the reality of a digital workforce is laughable and shows it’s the company who are out of date with 21st century trade unions. Rejecting calls for union recognition from their own journalists and then trying to fob them off with a Rupert Murdoch-style staff association is a pretty old-fashioned union-busting ruse that misses the point.
“NUJ officials and reps at Vice will continue with the push for recognition and if the company wants that to be gained through the law forcing their hand rather than through sensible engagement with their staff, so be it.”
The proposed Vice UK staff council would go across all departments, not just editorial
Vice UK pubishes a free magazine and website and in March it also announced the launch of European TV channel. The London-based publisher also has a department producing advertising content.
Journalists working for Vice in the UK have unionised and asked management for bargaining rights Vice Media launches TV channel aimed at UK audience on Sky and Now TV FT reports that youth media brand Vice has taken on tobacco firm Philip Morris as a client.

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