Vice U.K. Staffers, "Inspired" by U.S. Efforts, Move to Unionize to Address Pay, Diversity

Vice media office-Getty-H 2019
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The news comes just days after Vice agreed to a $1.9 million payout to female employees in the U.S.

Employees at Vice's U.K. offices have moved to unionize in a bid to address what they say are issues concerning redundancies, pay and diversity. 

In a statement published via Twitter from a new account on Friday, the Vice U.K. union said that staffers from the editorial, production and post-production departments had built a chapel within the U.K.'s National Union of Journalists, which they were now petitioning management to formally recognize.

"By unionizing, Vice U.K. workers hope to address a number of key business priorities: the fair management of redundancy processes, pay equity and transparency, and the problems that still persist when it comes to diversity and representation," the statement noted, without going into detail. "We also wish to use our union chapel to advocate for industry-leading practices when it comes to the management of our freelance workforce, who are crucial to Vice U.K.'s success."

It also added: "We stand for the fair and equal treatment of Vice U.K. workers, inspired by the incredible work of our U.S. colleagues."

The move comes after Vice earlier this week agreed to a $1.875 million deal to resolve a class-action lawsuit with an estimated 675 female employees in the U.S. The suit alleged that Vice failed to pay men and women equally for work because it relied on prior salaries. It also comes just a month after a major round of redundancies, including a number in the U.K.

This is actually the second time employees at Vice U.K. have attempted to unionize. In 2016, efforts were thwarted when Vice refused to recognize the National Union of Journalists.

"Vice has had positive experiences of working with unions in the U.S. and Canada and has indicated that we are open to engaging with the NUJ to try to establish a constructive relationship in the U.K.," a Vice spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter in response to the latest unionizing announcement. "We regret that the NUJ did not give us the opportunity to agree a joint statement indicating our commitment to working at ACAS (the U.K.'s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) but we look forward to positive discussions with it at the earliest possible opportunity."

However, in response to THR, members of the Vice union chapel said that they did, in fact, give Vice U.K. management an opportunity to work together and agree to a joint statement, pointing to a letter dated March 14. They confirmed that they had a majority membership in each of the production, post-production and editorial departments and underlined their commitment to working the with management.

In April 2018, amid the pay gap scandal that erupted in the U.K. media, Vice reported a mean pay gap of 18.2 percent in favor of men, from a total headcount of 204 men and 211 women across all its U.K. operations.