Third trade union joins Diamond boycott

WGGB and BECTU are delighted that the National Union of Journalists has joined the boycott of the broadcasters’ Project Diamond diversity initiative. The boycott aims to pressurise the broadcasters to agree to issue programme-level diversity data.

This means that three national trade unions are now boycotting the initiative: BECTU (which is now a sector of Prospect), WGGB, and now the NUJ.

The boycott arose after almost a year of discussions with the broadcasters and the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) over their joint equality monitoring initiative. The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky are for the first time undertaking equality monitoring of all those working on productions commissioned by them, which has been widely welcomed. The dispute lies in the broadcasters’ determination to keep secret any data that would identify how well individual productions have fared in employing a diverse workforce.

Minority ethnic professionals in all three unions believe from their own experience that the major problems faced by minority ethnic workers are the attitudes and hiring practices that confront them throughout their careers.

The three unions are supporting their view that only by publishing the Project Diamond equality monitoring data by production can we identify who is succeeding at hiring a diverse workforce, so the industry can learn from their example, and who is failing to do so, enabling intervention to put it right.

BECTU chief Gerry Morrissey commented: “We take no pleasure in having to boycott the broadcasters’ diversity plan but they left us with no alternative. Black broadcasting professionals are adamant, after decades of discrimination, that the only way to deal with discrimination and under-representation once and for all is to shine a light on the problem so we can see where the industry is failing. After months and months of discussions with the broadcasters and CDN, including the broadcasters’ face to face meeting with black members’ representatives of BECTU and the NUJ, it is completely unacceptable for the broadcasters to totally dismiss the considered views of ethnic minority professionals, when implementing a scheme that was supposed to be assisting them. The broadcasters’ message appears to be that they will address race discrimination their way, and only their way, whether black workers like it or not.

“The NUJ joining forces with BECTU and the Writers’ Guild in the boycott sends a message to the broadcasters that this issue is not going away. We want Project Diamond to work, but until they agree to greater transparency it simply won’t.”

WGGB Acting General Secretary Ellie Peers commented: “It has transpired that Project Diamond has been set up on the premise that programme-level data cannot be shared with trade unions, even in confidence.

“It has always been and remains our intention to work with broadcasters to address inequality, to improve the opportunities for women, minority ethnic, working class, disabled and other underrepresented freelance writers within broadcasting.

“The sharing of data is only stage one, the really hard graft comes afterwards – to effect positive, long-term change within broadcasting.

“We have met resistance and a barrage of excuses to justify not sharing programme-level data from CDN, none of which stand up to scrutiny. Whilst this continues, it’s not that surprising that an increasing number of trade unions have decided to boycott the project.”

The NUJ’s statement can be found here.