Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reps and redundancies take centre stage

It's Saturday and I'm sat in the office writing a report for our Executive, which meets next weekend, on buildings and pensions - don't let anyone tell you the life of a General Secretary isn't glamorous!

But back to earlier this week. Tuesday I attended the TUC Executive before going on to judge the TUC Congress Rep awards for organising and health and safety. Two worthy winners will be announced at the conference in September. Recognising reps' work is vitally important - they are the lifeblood of the unions.

We're kicking off our own reps recognition campaign through The Journalist - we've had some great nominations so far. But the other side of supporting our reps came to light this week when I spoke with John Carey our longstanding and excellent rep at the Telegraph who is being made redundant. It's a sham of course to try and get rid of an effective union rep - and I'll be representing John at his appeal in the next week or so. Reps like John need to know they have the union's full support - he does.

On Tuesday afternoon I signed off the results of the union's disability audit - we came out very well. There's some work to be done but we met all the thresholds easily. Tuesday evening I spoke with Newsquest reps as part of a telephone conference and we have planned some national activity for later this year. Watch this space...

On Tuesday we also put out a statement supporting our members taking part in the local government strikes. Hundreds of press and communications officers in local government are joint Unison/NUJ and they were taking part in the 600,000 strong-action over pay.

Wednesday I had staff and budget meetings in the morning before chairing the TUC Trades Councils committee. Thursday morning I met with the new senior conciliator and Ed Sweeney, the chair of ACAS - always useful since the NUJ are one of ACAS' best/worst clients. I blame intransigent employers. If they gave us what we wanted we wouldn't have to keep resorting to ACAS disputes.

Thursday afternoon I went down to Brighton to do a chapel meeting at The Argus where the company are proposing 10 editorial redundancies. It's the usual Newsquest slash and burn - they've come up with the numbers before the plan or any indication of how the work will be carried out by the remaining staff. A really well-attended chapel meeting made it clear staff wouldn't accept such incompetence and mandated their reps to begin balloting should the company seek to move to compulsory redundancies or fail to address concerns over future workloads.

Friday morning I worked from home trying to catch up on emails and correspondence and reports I need to get done in time to be sent to NEC members. Then I went with staff reps to see a possible new building which we would share with BECTU and the GFTU and put out a statement on the excellent response to our postcard campaign against ITV's plans to axe local news services.

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