The Socialist 1 November 2007 |
Join the Socialist
Fight low pay and long hours
"Press freedom is the freedom of 200 rich people to express their opinion" one German conservative newspaper owner commented decades ago. But trade unionists have a few words to say on the matter - one of the reasons for the European "Stand up for Journalism" day of action on 5 November.
In Britain, the issue has gained urgency due to sweeping BBC job cuts. The cuts go deep. It will not be possible to cover these through voluntary redundancies, which means there will be compulsory lay offs if the trade unions don't organise massive resistance and strike action. 2,500 job cuts have been announced so far. In Wales alone, 250 jobs will go, with at least 145 of these being redundancies.
Manchester NUJ branch agreed at a recent meeting to build links between lay members of the BBC unions to work towards forming a cross-union solidarity committee. This move should be taken up in other areas where there are BBC workplaces, especially London.
Links should also be made with other public-sector unions. The NUJ should publicly call for and support demands for a national public-sector strike.
The day of action could be a good way for the union to show it means business. In Coventry, journalists at the Coventry Telegraph will hold a disruptive workplace meeting to plan further strike action against staffing shortages.
In Manchester, a protest outside the Society of Editors conference will be held. Journalists working for the various Guardian media titles are moving towards putting a united pay claim to management. Freelances and casuals are reviving the freelance network.
The day of action can only be an opening shot for a fighting campaign to battle staff shortages, long working hours, low pay and cuts at the BBC and ITV. The NUJ leadership has to prove that it means business and plan a serious campaign of industrial action.