NUJ considering legal action to change freelance contract terms

THE National Union of Journalists is looking at possible legal action against The Herald group of newspapers, to force it to re-negotiate a contract it has put to its freelance contributors.

A number of freelancers have voiced concern to the NUJ about the terms and conditions being asked of them by the newspapers – The Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times – as a prerequesite to being commissioned.

One particular area of concern are the copyright terms.

In a memo to freelancers, NUJ Scottish Organiser, described the situation as “complicated”. The new terms first came to light in May.

Holleran – who is currently on holiday – said: “It is clear there is no further room to negotiate collectively on the unacceptable clauses in the contract and the union is now looking at possible forms of legal action to force them to re-negotiate the contract.”

He goes on to write: “Tom Thomson –  managing editor of [publishers] Newsquest – has said he is prepared to negotiate with individuals on certain aspects of the contract such as rates for additional use, syndication and exclusivity.”

Holleran intends to raise the subject at the NUJ’s UK-wide National Executive Council a week on Friday, to establish what the union’s next reponse is going to be.