Campaigning by the Netherlands and Brussels branches to achieve reporting on the Zwarte Piet issue which is fair, accurate, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race or colour, has gained national support after the NUJ's National Executive Council this month supported a motion by Continental European reps Cailin Mackenzie and Tony Sheldon.

They collaborated closely with branch member Marvin Hokstam who first raised the issue, and who also sits on the union's Black Members Council.

The NEC agreed the following: "The NEC notes that the festival of Sinterklaas will soon be celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The NEC notes that the character of Zwarte Piet, who accompanies Sinterklaas, is predominantly portrayed by someone in ‘black face’, and this continues to be enjoyed by many who consider it to be an innocent tradition. 

Each year there is increased debate and controversy around Zwarte Piet, requiring journalists to cover the topic and arguments. 

The NEC reminds all those covering Zwarte Piet of the NUJ Race Reporting Guidelines which state that journalists, “should not originate material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of race or colour”.

The NEC supports journalists in Continental Europe in their efforts to encourage non-discriminatory reporting of Zwarte Piet and those trying to raise a discussion about his role in the Netherlands and Belgium in the 21st Century."

See also the branch statement on reporting Zwarte Piet