By Dan Walsh
The Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists and Chair of the Irish South East branch have called on Iconic Newspapers to match its call for Irish government support with a change in its own attitude towards trade union recognition.
Recently, editors of the company’s 24 regional titles published a letter to their respective readers calling for support of the newspaper print sector, a call made by the NUJ in May 2020, and repeated in the union’s submission to the Future of Broadcasting Commission.
Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, NUJ has responded to the editors’ letter pointing out; “There has been a growing awareness of the need for authoritative public interest journalism, provided not just by our public service broadcasters but by privately owned media.”
Mr Dooley called for bold polices, including specific measures to protect the regional press and specialist publications, across all platforms. “Targeted measures aimed at supporting jobs and quality journalism, and bolstering independent, diverse, ethically produced content are needed,” he added.
NUJ agrees that these are challenging times for everyone. This however is where the commonality appears to end.
“Our members are not “understanding” of the imposition of layoffs or reduced hours and why it is they have not been afforded the opportunity to be collectively represented by their Union. We would welcome the opportunity to engage with Iconic Newspapers to work together with the NUJ to protect local news and the members on whom the industry depends,” stated Mr Dooley, who added; “It is a cornerstone of our News Recovery Plan that public money should not be made available for privately owned firms making compulsory redundancies, cutting pay, giving executive bonuses, or blocking trade union organisation.
The NUJ’s stance is being fully supported by members in the South East, with Damien Tiernan, chair of the branch, stating “It’s imperative Denmark meets with the staff representative association. What’s happening now is just not good enough.”
Meanwhile, the union’s Irish Organiser Ian McGuinness has written to publisher Malcolm Denmark seeking a meeting to discuss the introduction of layoffs and reduced working hours in Iconic and has received no response.