Reel News has just shown the power of independent media to help bring about social change.
On 11 May, the high court threw out an injunction that the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union tried to take out against the London-based activist video collective. Reel News describe this as ‘a huge victory for free speech and press freedom.’
On 7 May, Reel News had uploaded a video interview with a former organiser, Claire Laycock, detailing serious allegations of sexual and psychological abuse by senior officers in the union.
Since then, they’ve heard allegations from at least six women (all former staff of the union) who had been sexually harassed by TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes. Like Claire, these women are restricted by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) imposed by the union from saying anything publicly.
Reel News has called for an end to the existing NDAs and a ban on their use by unions to silence women.
A new movement
A group of women in the TSSA and other unions have just formed a #meTU campaign on Twitter, committed to ending sexism, sexual harassment and violence, and bullying in the trade union and labour movement.
Reel News report that they have also now heard allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape in other unions: ‘We knew that we would never have been made aware of any of these incidents if we hadn’t posted the video of Claire’s testimony – and now we are absolutely convinced that we need to push for a thorough investigation into the entire trade union movement.’
They also say: ‘To those in our movement who have stayed silent so far: we understand why it’s been so difficult to speak up, but take courage from Claire – this is the time to do it. And to those abusers who are poisoning our movement: we don’t care how big and powerful you are. We know who you are, and we are coming for you.’
Reel News also thanked the National Union of Journalists ‘for providing us with excellent legal representation and backing us 100% in this court action’.