Guardian ‘day of rest’

THE NUJ is set to designate a "Guardian day of rest" when it will ask photographers to refuse to enter into contracts to work for the paper on a specific day in protest against recent changes to their terms and conditions.

The union wants the company to improve its offer to all freelance photographers, after it was able to negotiate an agreement covering re-use fees for those working under retainer contracts for the paper.

The protest: photo © Pete Jenkins
Protesting photographers photograph NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear (left) and Steve Bell

The dispute relates to a decision by the Guardian to refuse to pay fees for re-using commissioned photographs. In July the Guardian wrote to all freelance and contract photographers stating it would no longer pay re-use fees for photographs they commission

After NUJ intervention it has been agreed that over a dozen photographers who work under contract for the Guardian will agree a licence to be paid re-use fees on a sliding scale for a five-year period after the end of the contract.

This only applies to contract photographers, and the union is demanding improved conditions for all photographers commissioned by the paper. Many photographers depend on re-use fees for a significant proportion of their income.

The day on which the protest will take place will be specified nearer the time, minimising the advance notice that will be given to the company. NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner said: "We're pleased to have reached an acceptable deal for contractors on re-use fees. But other issues remain to be resolved. Now we're looking to the Guardian to show the same willingness to review its position for all photographers."

An NUJ protest on 1 September outside the Guardian's offices at Kings Place in London, was attended by 40 photographers and their supporters. Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, expressed the solidarity of the whole union with Guardian photographers' fight. "If we are successful here it will help us to defend attacks on freelance conditions elsewhere in the industry," he said.

Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist and member of the paper's NUJ chapel committee, told protesters: "Comment may be free, but content is not free. This move is theft of people's work and their right to make a living from it." The union also sent a letter signed by over 900 photographers to Chris Elliott, the managing editor of the Guardian - www.londonfreelance .org/fl/0910gmg.html to add your name to this petition.

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