BEING TOLD they had to work Sundays was the last straw for journalists at OK! magazine. Last week they decided to form a union chapel. Over half the workforce at OK! joined the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Since their move to the Express Newspapers building a year ago, it had become clear to OK! journalists how much better the pay and conditions were at the unionised Express. Workers at the Express get six weeks paid holiday, while staff at OK! on Northern and Shell contracts get four weeks holiday, three days of which must be taken over Christmas.
Some of the OK! workforce got a £600 pay increase at Christmas. Some got nothing at all. OK! workers are only eligible for ten days paid sickness leave a year. At the Express it is six months.
Contracts for OK! workers also specify that they are forbidden to join a union. Richard Desmond-owner of the Express and OK!-is trying to force Northern and Shell contracts on new starters or people who put in for promotion at the Express. The NUJ is equally determined to resist them, and to back the OK! workforce in the battles ahead.