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Journalists Welcome Landmark Victory For Unions

2 July 2002

Journalists Welcome Landmark Victory For Union Rights

The International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalists’ organisation today welcomed the European Court of Human Rights ruling in favour of British journalist Dave Wilson.

Wilson, a former Daily Mail subeditor, was denied a pay rise for refusing to sign a contract preventing him from being represented by a union, has won his case at the European court of human rights.

The case dates back more than 10 years. Wilson said: “I feel privileged to have been able to help to protect basic freedoms and strengthen workplace rights, especially for people who feel vulnerable and without a voice at work.”

The European court ruled Wilson had a right to be treated equally to staff who were not union members. “It is the role of the state to ensure that trade union members are not prevented or restrained from using their union to represent them in attempts to regulate their relations with their employers.”

“This is a victory for trade union right in journalism,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and EFJ, “it is a landmark victory that will prevent discrimination against journalists who stick to their union and refuse to be bullied by their employers.”

Daily Mail staff are now hopeful they will force management to negotiate pay collectively after huge numbers of employees attended meetings called to establish a union chapel at the paper.

The National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland fought the case all the way to the House of Lords. But in 1995 the Lords ruled that while British workers could not be discriminated against on the grounds simply of their trade union membership, they were not protected by the law if they sought to use that membership.

“The Daily Mail’s anti-union stance appears regularly in its pages and is reflected in the way it treats its staff. Let this ruling be a lesson to Lord Rothermere, the Mail’s owner, and all other anti-union employers. It is a fundamental human right to be a union member and unions will fight to protect the rights of their members,” said Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the NUJ.

The British government has been urged to change the law following today's European court ruling, which stated UK employers penalised workers for wanting to be represented by a trade union.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists worldwide

Note: New Zealand’s largest trade union, the EPMU, is an affiliate of the IFJ.

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