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NUJ condemns misleading ads at TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference

The NUJ delegation put two motions to the TUC Disabled Workers' Conference in Bournemouth on 21-22 May. Natasha Hirst, chair of the Photographers' Council and an NUJ delegate at the Conference, reports.

We raised the issue of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) running a PR campaign to promote Universal Credit. It had planned wraparounds on the Metro newspaper; these haven't materialised but there have been a number of so-called "mythbuster" advertorials and planted features. The DWP arranged visits to JobCentres that led to unbalanced articles in the Metro and a range of other publications.

The NUJ delegation argued that this misleading campaign is in breach of the government's own communications guidelines. We called for support for our members who are in the difficult situation of wanting to produce ethical and balanced reporting but are under pressure from editors and managers.

Universal Credit itself is an issue that affects many freelances on low income. For the Government to dismiss those people who have spoken out about the detriment they have suffered and to continue to mislead the public on Universal Credit is a serious issue.

Our other motion was about access to professional development and training. This would include union-provided skills courses and courses run by professional bodies such as the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Disabled people in professional careers need to be able to access the same opportunities to upskill, qualify and advance their careers as anyone else. Otherwise, they continue to be at a disadvantage in securing work and being paid fairly for what they do.

There's a longer report on the NUJ Disabled Workers Conference here.