Vice UK Rejects Call for Union Recognition
Vice’s UK arm has rejected a push for union recognition by a group of staff, bucking a growing trend that has seen unionisation at digital media businesses including the outlet’s main base in the US.
At a meeting held in London on Tuesday, Vice UK staff were told that the National Union of Journalists would not be recognised at this point but instead were offered the chance to set up an internal staff council.
A subsequent email sent to all staff by Vice EMEA chief executive Matt Elek claimed the NUJ had displayed “a concerning lack of transparency from them about who they are purporting to represent here” and had “not been able to provide us with any numbers to demonstrate the degree of support they have in this office”.
He added, however, that if the union wished to take the case to the Central Arbitration Committee and it found “an overwhelming majority of legitimate support for a Vice UK union” the company would support recognition.
The email adds: “The NUJ are used to working with old print media businesses and structures – they are not used to innovative, digital workplaces like this where the culture has always been to encourage flexibility and allow people work across different departments.”
It is signed off “Fanks”.
The push for union recognition, which would provide Vice staff with collective bargaining powers, started in February when NUJ members wrote to colleagues asking them to support the bid for official recognition.
Their email said: “We enjoy working at Vice. We appreciate our creative freedom. We also believe organising our workplace is the best way to keep pushing journalistic boundaries while allowing all staff to share in the success of the company.”
“Vice UK staff are incredibly hard working, ambitious and creative and we like working at Vice. We are doing this because we want to continue to make the company a success while also sharing in that success.”
Senior managers subsequently agreed to meet representatives from staff and the union.
The rejection is in stark contrast to the trend established in the US, where journalists working for the digital operations of Vice, Gawker and the Guardian have all recently won recognition.
A Vice spokesperson said: “We are always engaging with our staff to improve the benefits and experience at Vice UK for all of our employees. To build a progressive, 21st century media company is a constantly evolving process.
“We’re going about this by encouraging a dynamic and flexible working culture and giving a range of benefits to our staff including company equity, competitive salaries, a Vice pension scheme, enhanced maternity pay and life insurance.”