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PA Media editorial staff edge closer to union recognition

Editorial staff at PA Media (formerly the Press Association), which has a sizeable operation at Howden in East Yorkshire and a training hub in Newcastle alongside its London HQ, have made a significant step forward in their bid for NUJ recognition.

Journalists in the content division at PA have in recent years worked towards introducing collective bargaining in their workplace, with the aim of securing better and fairer pay and conditions for all staff, having formed an NUJ chapel in 2021.

The PA NUJ chapel took their bid for statutory recognition of their proposed bargaining unit to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) after PA management refused to recognise the union voluntarily in July 2023.

The CAC has accepted the application and found that, on the balance of probabilities, a majority of workers in the proposed bargaining unit would be likely to support the chapel’s application for the NUJ to be recognised for the purpose of collective bargaining.

This is the first time in PA’s near-160-year history that staff have come this close to achieving union recognition within the workplace. The Press Association was founded in 1868 by a group of provincial newspaper proprietors to provide a news-collecting and reporting service from around the United Kingdom to compete with the monopoly of the telegraph companies. The biggest current shareholders include the Daily Mail and General Trust, News UK, and Informa.

A PA Chapel spokesperson said: “This is a momentous occasion and we are delighted all the hard work has paid off to enable us to reach this critical point in our journey towards a fairer workplace. We believe union recognition and the establishment of a recognised bargaining unit is the only way for hundreds of PA editorial staff working across the UK to have a real say on pay and other important issues.

“While the CAC finding is a very welcome step, the hard work has just begun and we will need everyone’s support to get over the next hurdle.”

PA Media told Prolific North: “At PA Media we actively consult with all editorial staff on business decisions and encourage widespread engagement to promote a positive, inclusive working environment. We value our employees and their views and will respect this process, but our position remains that union representation is unnecessary.”

The next stage of the process will see delegates from the chapel and PA management meet to negotiate an agreement on the scope of the proposed bargaining unit. Over the coming days and weeks, the chapel will be launching a ‘Real Say, Better Pay’ campaign to highlight the benefits of collective bargaining and union membership.

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