Union defends journalists
The union that represents journalists is tonight condemning comments by National Party leader Don Brash suggesting political bias among journalists who are union members.
“His suggestion is totally unwarranted,” said Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little.
“The right to join a trade union is an international freedom recognised in international law,” he said.
“To suggest that New Zealand journalists who join the EPMU for the workplace protections and rights that come with belonging to a union are somehow tainted is a gross slur on their professionalism.”
Mr Little said that journalists who were members of the EPMU were not connected to the Labour Party in any way.
“It is spelt out in our rules that our journalist members are not covered by the union’s affiliation and involvement in the Labour Party,” he said.
“The Labour Party understands that, journalists understand that, and the union understands that. It’s a pity that Dr Brash cannot understand it.
“Journalists who are members of the union sign up to a code of ethics that requires thm to report the news without fear or favour, and that applies as much to writing stories about unions as it does to writing stories about politicians.”
Mr Little said that New Zealand journalists had been union members for more than 90 years.
“The journalists’ union was founded in 1912, and has counted most of New Zealand’s finest journalists among its members,” he said.
“It was the National Government’s wholesale attack on unions in the 1990s that made such a small organisation economically unviable, and journalists voted to join first with the printers’ union and then with the engineers’ union. But it was a condition of those amalgamations that journalist members of the EPMU not be part of the union’s political activities.”
Mr Little said that Dr Brash’s attack on journalists was a sign of the intense pressure he was under over revelations about his involvement with a group of Exclusive Brethren who are running an anti-Labour campaign.
“It is classic case of trying to shoot the messenger, and it does Dr Brash no credit,” Mr Little said.