Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Government Minister detained

This afternoon I and other union senior officials met with Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and heard graphically about the situation facing trade unionists and journalists in Zimbabwe - not just the violence and intimidation but the economic woes. Lovemore pointed out that since he left Zimbabwe two weeks ago the cost of a loaf of bread had increased six-fold and that hyperinflation was rampant.

We were due to meet with DfiD Ministers - but were told at the last minute they had been detained in the Commons as a result of the vote on Government plans to increase police powers to detain terror suspects. No-one could clarify if they were being detained for 28 or 42 days.

The NUJ has proudly
supported the Zimbabwean journalists' union - last month thanks to the generosity of branches we were able to provide them with laptops to replace a computer wrecked when their offices were raided. More help for unions in Zimbabwe is always needed. Find out how you can help here

On Monday I was in Wales
giving evidence to the Broadcasting Committee of the National Assembly which was discussing public service broadcasting in Wales. After the committee I met with Rhodri Morgan the First Minister of Wales to convey our concerns about the state of the media in Wales and the threat cuts imposed at ITV, the BBC and in newspapers pose to quality journalism. Today's report by the BBC Trust on the coverage of the nations and regions backs up our point - you can't have the depth, quality and breadth of coverage if you don't invest in journalists and news-gathering.

Tuesday was packed with meetings - starting with a phone conference with Carl Roper at the
TUC , discussions with Skillset, staff meetings and the first of a series of budget meetings with National Officers. A balanced budget is still a long way off!

The day was rounded off by a meeting with NUJ reps at the South London Press as part of our pay negotiations at the Tindle-owned title. We are keen to secure a new pay/grading structure. The results of a pay survey are shocking. Low pay is alive and well in local papers in London with one qualified journalist with more than five years service earning just £18,500.

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