Photographer and union activist Pete Jenkins, who sits on the NUJ’s National Executive Committee, Freelance Industrial Council and is Vice-Chair of the Photographers Sub-Committee wrote to photographers earlier this week, inviting them to join the National Visual Journalists Photo (NVJPhoto) discussion list.
In an email sent to prospective members, Jenkins wrote: “After much deliberation with the moderators and many other subscribers to the old NUJPhoto list, we have decided to open a new discussion list which we are calling the National Visual Journalists Photo list (NVJPhoto).”
“This will be owned and run by union members only. There will be no endorsement sought from the NUJ and we are now open for business.”
The similarities between the two lists, whose name and web address differ by just one letter, has been remarked upon by the union’s legal officer, who wrote to Jenkins to note that the new list “bears an uncanny resemblance to NUJPhoto”.
While the union does not appear to have any grounds to take any legal action against the new lookalike list, the unions Deputy General Secretary has ordered that any references to NUJPhoto to be removed from any official union websites or literature. In addition, Fray has told NUJ staff and officials that they should not give out any information to members to help them contact any of the old NUJPhoto moderators.
The NVYPhoto website also goes to some lengths to stress its independence from the union: “NUJ has made it clear that it forbids the recommencement of NUJPhoto, or of any substitute forum claiming any endorsement or official NUJ status. Hence this entirely independent and unofficial NVJPhoto list has now been formed.”
EPUK understands that the union have instructed Jenkins to close the old NUJPhoto website, which contains a statement by Jenkins accusing the union of interference in the old list’s membership policies.
NUJ management “wanted to dictate”
The statement reads: “Having been endorsed by the Unions Freelance Industrial Council, it eventually became clear during the final week of July 2007, that the Management of the National Union of Journalists thought that they had final control of this e-list, and that they wanted to dictate to the elected moderators and the ordinary lay members who could and could not be allowed onto a members discussion group”.
Last week EPUK reported that the closure of the old NUJPhoto list came shortly after NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear, General Secretary wrote to five members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in the most forceful terms, informing them that a decision by the list moderators to turn down a membership application from the union’s Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley was “unacceptable”.
The decision was discussed at length by an emergency committee of the NEC, although it will not be revealed what decisions were taken until the minutes are released.
Photographers who are NUJ members can apply to join the new list at the NVJPhoto website
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