THE possibility of industrial action at The Herald newspaper group is being mooted by a photographers action group.
Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK) says “controversial changes to the working conditions of both staff and freelance photographers” at the group raises the prospect of a repeat of industrial action held last year by members of the National Union of Journalists.
EPUK says it follows the merging of all the picture desks at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times in a ‘group multimedia desk’.
The new arrangement means staff photographers will work across all three titles, producing audio and video, in addition to stills.
EPUK fears freelances will be required to do the same, but without having been trained and having also to supply their own equipment.
Says EPUK, on its website: “[The Herald group publishers] Newsquest has been negotiating with the NUJ over a controversial new freelance contract which refers to ‘multimedia content’, proposes the scrapping of repro[duction] payments for second use, and allows the publisher to use commissioned work across all of its websites and electronic editions for a nominal rise in the the shift rate.”
It adds: “While management has backed down on some aspects of the freelance contract following negotiations with the NUJ, freelances are also furious over attempts by management to impose ‘exclusivity’ clauses – meaning freelances cannot resell the work elsewhere – and ‘indemnity’ clauses which shift legal liability from the publisher to the freelance.”
There’s a concern too about commissioned job fees, and expenses.
Last year, the NUJ led a series of walk-outs, which led to the abandonment of compulsory redundancies plans.