Monday, December 15, 2008

Even man flu can't stop the resistance to job cuts

The dreaded man flu (a particularly virulent strain!) caused me to have my first day off sick for years last week - hence the lack of posts as I rushed to try and catch up with other work - or that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Have just confirmed this morning that Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News will open the NUJ's Jobs Summit - Protecting journalism, defending journalists - on January 24. The meeting is building up to be quite an event as ever more dire predictions about the future of parts of the industry reach us. Claire Enders predicts a third of regional newspapers, two national newspapers and half of the jobs in the regional media to have gone by 2013. With Trinity Mirror having already axed 44 titles and Newsquest announcing a further 11 title closures, her predictions are looking less and less 'out there'.

We've already started the fight back with local campaigns being built, industrial action ballots announced and negotiations proceeding. A couple of surprise protests are planned too! But it's clear we are going to have to step up the resistance to this dismantling of sections of the industry - and the Jobs Summit will give us the chance to co-ordinate action across more sections of the industry. The companies are not unprofitable and many major analysts expect them to remain so in to the future so the slash and burn is not about saving an industry but about maintaining artificially high profit levels. Owners can no longer expect to fleece the industry to the tune of 30%-plus, they are going to have to accept lower profit margins. If they won't, they should get out and let people who care about newspapers' public service role take over.

Much of last week (and I expect the next few months) has been taken up with dealing with the fall out from this crisis.

But other issues have needed dealing with too. I was in Ireland last Monday doing interviews for our vacant assistant organiser role. Congratulations to Ian McGuiness who takes up the role in January.

I have also had staff meetings with our broadcasting and membership departments and worked with Michelle Stanistreet and Lena Calvert to put together our response to the TUC Equality audit. I've taken part in an NEC telephone conference about the staff pension scheme and met with the GFTU and Express Newspapers to talk about the redundancies as well as...oh, loads of other things.

With the threat to jobs in the industry there is clearly a major knock-on impact on the union - and not least our financial position. This morning I'm sitting down with our finance manager and Michelle to try to work out the implications over the next three to four years. Gulp!

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