Thursday, March 27, 2008

Strikes, lobbies and protests

It's all been happening over the past 24 hours - with an excellent lobby of Parliament over the future of ITV, a vote for three days of strike action at the Express and Star and a formal recognition application going in at the Northcliffe titles in Swansea, Carmarthen and Llanelli amid an increasingly hysteric anti-union campaign.

The three unions at ITV lobbied MPs yesterday as part of our ongoing campaign to Save ITV News and secure a sustainable future for public service broadcasting on ITV. Reps from across the UK set out clearly to three dozen MPs the cuts they are facing, the impact that will have on local communities and the jobs and skills that will be lost. MPs responded positively and are signed up to our efforts to stop Ofcom approving the latest round of cuts and exploring long-term solutions to the funding of PSB on commercial stations, backing the case set out in the joint unions' briefing.

I was at Parliament on Tuesday too meeting the co-ordinator of our group, planning the next stage of our work around employment rights, photographers' rights and relations with the police, work experience and the abuse of the national minimum wage, the Freedom of Information Act consultation and the Press Complaints Commission.

Yesterday a vibrant Chapel meeting at the Express voted for three days of strike action over a below-inflation pay rise. Today I have signed off the formal notice of industrial action and we have issued a statement. President Michelle Stanistreet who is also our union rep at Express Newspapers now faces the conundrum of how to get from the 6am picket line in London to chair our annual conference at 9am in Belfast which starts the same day as the strike.

The Express was also the subject of my Tribune column - and their grovelling apology, the inevitable result of the proprietors' commercial interests being put above journalistic values, shows everything we have been saying about the damage to quality journalism caused by cost-cutting and the sales-at-all-costs philosophy which drives Richard Desmond.

Over in Swansea we have submitted our formal statutory application for recognition which I signed off today. Our recent campaign to build membership has provoked a flurry of activity from management - suddenly finding ways to address issues we and staff have been raising for ages. Interspersed with the nice cop routine is the more sinister Northcliffe nasty cop - the calling in of individuals and the pressure being exerted on them. Tales of what goes on behind closed doors are not for those squeamish about such things as rights, freedoms and liberties.

As well as all this activity I've also written to a number of key opinion formers in Suffolk backing our fight against cuts at the Archant titles there, met with the BBC, met with our sister union BECTU and secured an agreement on the NUJ pension scheme with staff.

And now I'm gearing up for my 'lone protest' tomorrow outside the Met to highlight the attacks on photographers' rights and the obstruction and intimidation they too often face in doing their job. You can read all about it here:

Photography protest looms at Scotland Yard

Photography protest looms at Scotland Yard (28.03.08)

Who Watches the Watchers?

Photographer’s rights protest

British police force vows to act on photographers’ anti-terror fears

Tog to protest at New Scotland Yard

Press Freedom Protest! New Scotland Yard!

British Journal of Photography Forum / Photography protest looms at
Scotland Yard

Talking of photographers I'm in trouble. The comment on the entry below highlights me forgetting to credit the guerrilla artwork of David Hoffman. Whoops. Mea Culpa. Sorry. (is that enough grovelling - ed?)

Back to work...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have blogged on exactly the same issue today, following an unsavoury incident when I too was detained in a police car simply for taking photographs.

I trust that all photographers will do something to back Mr. Mitchell's campaign