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coronavirus


Unions take a lead in securing financial support for workers


THE NUJ, other unions and the TUC were quick to lobby for protection for workers as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded and have been instrumental in influencing the Government’s response to the health crisis. Unions successfully argued that the British and Irish governments should provide money to keep workers in jobs amid a massive decline in business. While whole industries have shut down overnight such as hospitality, the arts and sports, journalism has been particularly hard hit by the decline in advertising as much of normal life has closed down. Newspapers have halted their print editions, especially those that relied on free distribution at train stations and in central city locations. Journalists covering sport and the arts have also seen their work disappear. The NUJ has also been vocal in getting help for freelance and


self-employed workers and a similar help package to the job retention scheme was set up in the UK and Ireland a little time after the job retention programme was established. Freelance journalists including photographers have seen their work disappear overnight as media organisations grappled with uncertainty and events which are usually covered were scrapped. The NUJ also successfully pressed for journalists who are covering coronavirus developments to be classed as key workers


along with NHS staff, supermarket and food distribution employees and others in key activities. Key workers benefit from receiving childcare and schooling amid the current school shutdown. Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, tweeted about the key worker classification: “Public service news across TV, radio and print has never been more important than it is right now.” The union is updating information


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frequently as the Government announces new measures. Visit the website – www.nuj.org.uk – to find out the latest; for help in how to access assistance; and for health and safety guidance as well as other support: If members have further


questions they can email the relevant NUJ departments or the ‘contact us’ section of the website.


Other useful points of contact are: The TUC – www.tuc.org.uk The Health Service – www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus- covid-19/ The UK Government – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for- wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme The Health and Safety Executive – www.hse.gov.uk The Irish Government – https://www.gov.ie/en/service/ be74d3-covid-19-pandemic-unemployment-payment/ Irish Congress of Trade Unions – www.icte.ie


NUJ Extra offers help to members


NUJ EXTRA, the union’s charity, has offered help to union members whose income has been hit by the effects of coronavirus and it has also asked for members who are earning to donate to the charity. The trustees said: “We


have received a statutory warning letter that the value of our investments has fallen by more than 10 per cent, by more than £300,000. Despite this, we are gearing up to support those affected by Covid-19 and the economic shocks


surrounding it. We anticipate awarding an unprecedented level of grants in the current financial year. We will help those directly affected and who lose money as a result, those who contract the disease or who have to


self-isolate because of it. We will also consider applications from those who do not contract the disease


“ Fighting for freelances in the eye of the storm


IN MANY ways, freelance journalists are in the eye of the coronavirus storm because for some their income has disappeared virtually overnight. The NUJ’s freelance department will be running a comprehensive survey of how the pandemic has affected freelance journalists in


04 | theJournalist


due course. If you want to contribute your experience now, please email freelance@nuj. org.uk There are many different types of financial help that freelances can access but the process can be complicated. The freelance department has compiled a guide to the new help


available from the Government including the taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month and existing benefits such as statutory sick pay and universal credit. https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/ covid-19-update-from-the-nujs-freelance-office/


Public service news across TV, radio and print has never been more important than it is right now’


Oliver Dowden, digital, culture, media and sport secretary


but who lose significant income from the economic impact of Covid-19 and the response to it – this is a significant variation to our normal policy.”


To apply or donate please go to https://www.nuj.org.uk/ news/nuj-extra-response-to- covid-19/


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