Friday, February 29, 2008

George Viner: Putting our money where our mouth is

Wednesday was TUC General Council day and more discussions about the Agency Workers Directive and the UK government's attempts to wriggle out of their obligations to some of the most vulnerable workers there are. The government want a long qualifying period before temporary and agency workers acquire rights - why? So it's not a burden on business. It's only a burden on businesses who mistreat workers and deny them justice. The latest government tactic to defuse the row is to come up with a commission. Excuse me being sceptical about its real purpose but it appears an attempt to kick the issue in to the long grass.

Other issues discussed included the situation at the BBC - I briefed the General Council on the latest moves - work your proper hours day, pensions and the impact of private equity as well as a discussion on the challenge posed by China and India. As the NUJ and other unions have already found out work is being transferred (in the media to India) and there are implications for jobs and terms and conditions which we are trying to address through the International Federation of Journalists and building links with our sister unions in India.

On Thursday I met with Spencer Neal and NUJ members at the New Statesman and met with Tory Blair, the incoming BBC secondee before attending the George Viner Memorial Fund awards ceremony in the evening. The guest speaker was Samira Ahmed from Channel 4 who I found really engaging - very honest, funny and down to earth. The Fund has ploughed a lone furrow for many years to try to help address the lack of black and Asian journalists in so many newsrooms and has done a tremendous job. The union is very proud to support it and to show our support President Michelle Stanistreet handed out the certificates.

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