Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bring me sunshine

The week started with a conference call with BBC management in advance of their submission to the Ofcom review of Public Service Broadcasting. We broadly welcome the BBC's submission although there are some elements which cause us concern - the pooling of news resources (leading to job cuts at ITV) and their insistence of 'self-help' at Channel 4 (leading to job cuts at C4). But we strongly support their case for defence of the unitary receipt of the licence fee and welcome BBC support for the idea of using other regulatory mechanisms such as spectrum allocation to help fund commercial public service broadcasters.

On Monday I also met Richard Balfe, the Conservative Party's envoy to the co-operative and trades union movement. Honestly, that's what it says on his business card.

We asked lots of questions about what a future Conservative government would do on employment law, statutory recognition, the future of public service broadcasting. We've not had any answers yet.

Having had 3 NEC sub-committees at the end of last week I also spent some time following up as many action points as possible and wrote to Lord Malloch-Brown following up my recent meeting with him.

On Tuesday I had a telephone conference with officials from the newspapers sector to discuss the latest job cuts at Newsquest and the situation in Scotland. We will be talking with all our reps in the next couple of weeks to plan the next stage of our campaign against increased workloads and stress resulting from the job losses.

I also put in our submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights which is looking in to policing and protest, pulling together material about the intimidation, harassment, violence and obstruction faced by journalists, especially photographers and camera crew, covering protests and our recent concerns over police surveillance of photographers. There's some more excellent stuff on it on the these two blogs.

Finally yesterday it was over to the South London Press for the next stage of the wage negotiations. First off we met management and then had a chapel meeting.

Today I'm having another phone conference - this time with the chair and vice-chair of policy committee to plan some of the work over the coming months, am meeting with Bectu General Secretary Gerry Morrissey to continue our discussions about sharing a building before a campaigns meeting with reps from the BBC World Service's South Asia service.

Then I'm off to Glastonbury tonight. So the blog won't be back around until Tuesday next week. But you can still keep up with what I'm up to here

For the past 8 years or so I and a number of NU activists have worked at Glastonbury every year - either with the Workers' Beer Company raising money for NUJ and labour movement causes or in more recent years in The Leftfield - the social conscience of the festival. This year my grand title is Political Liaison Officer for The Leftfield. But over the next 4 days we've got bands, speakers, stalls, rallies on slavery, anti-racism, miscarriages of justice, Latin America, trade union rights and much more. It's not everyone's idea of a holiday but I get a real buzz and inspiration from all the campaigners, bands, comedians putting in so much effort for free to highlight injustice and campaign for change.

This year I'm also helping to run the Leftfield Blog.

What am i looking forward to seeing this year? Apart from some bloody sunshine, Manu Chao - and NUJ member Tony Benn of course. I wonder if they'll do a number together...

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