NUJ members at Reuters are calling for strike action over the ‘shabby way’in which its journalists’ jobs are being changed without consultation.
The union today called for a ballot on industrial action over the company’s ‘refusal to hold meaningful negotiations over changes to journalists’ job roles”, as part of a restructuring that begins today.
Reuters said the changes were part of an ‘internal HR reclassification’of some editorial roles, which were not contractual and would have no effect on employee terms and conditions.
The reshuffle is thought to be related to the ongoing merger of Reuters and Thomson, although the company said today that the restructuring is part of a review that pre-dates the merger and is unrelated. That deal is expected to be completed in the Spring, pending two separate investigations by the European Commission and the US Department of Justice.
Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger, was questioned by members of a House of Lords Committee on the company’s failure to consult on the merger.
At a meeting of the Reuters NUJ chapel last week, union members agreed a statement which ‘condemns the way in which the company has ignored the chapel’s negotiating rights over job roles”.
It said: “This bodes ill for the future as we go into a merger. Therefore the chapel instructs its officers to ballot for industrial action.”
Myra MacDonald, NUJ mother of chapel at Reuters, said: ‘This is a shabby way for Reuters to treat its journalists. Our members are furious that the company’s management seems to think it can ride roughshod over its agreements with the union.
‘This is not just about job roles but about the NUJ’s right to hold meaningful negotiations with management as we go into a merger that will have huge implications for the future of our journalists and the quality of our journalism.”
Barry Fitzpatrick, the union’s national organiser, said: ‘Members feel forced into this position by the failure of the company to engage with its employees. We urge Reuters management not to impose these changes, but to follow our agreed procedures and negotiate with the union.”
A spokeswoman for Reuters said: ‘Reuters has been in consultation with the NUJ since early December. Active discussions relate to an internal HR reclassification of some roles within Reuters editorial.
‘These reclassifications are non contractual, do not affect terms and conditions, and will be of significant benefit to staff in the newsroom. The review will result in a more transparent editorial framework, and will allow journalists more structure and visibility as to their career progression.
‘Reuters is continuing its discussions with the NUJ, and remains committed to ensuring that all discussions adhere to due process.”