Thursday, January 08, 2009

out of the FRYing pan...(and other attempts at a cheap pun)

Yesterday I was accused of taking a cheap shot at Tim Bowdler. It's not him personally - I always found him to be straightforward and likable as a person - it's the fact he received a performance related bonus last year of £516,000 when the share price dived, the company debts became a millstone around their neck and almost 100 editorial jobs have been cut - and that he got a £172,000 uplift in his pension, giving him a transfer value on it of £1.3m whilst many of our members fear for their futures and will not be able to walk straight in to other jobs at PA or elsewhere.

Of course he's not alone - you can draw out similar figures for Sly Bailey, Paul Davidson and others. But his comments put him in the line of fire that day. I'm sure I'll be equally as cheap about others shortly.

And so to his successor, John Fry who visited Leeds yesterday on the same day 100 journalists walked out on a protest and won support from local politicians for the campaign to oppose cuts there - including possible compulsory redundancies amongst photographers.
Discussions with local management have bought more time - and hopefully some movement on those jobs.

That wasn't the only movement over the last 24 hours. In Darlington, following our industrial action on Monday, an agreement has been reached to bring forward pay talks and to reinstate pay stopped as a result of the action. It's the first sign of a thaw in the pay freezes and comes at a time when chapels across arrange of groups are considering action over pay.

Last night the Scottish Parliament also hit out at job cuts amongst journalists - and the particularly pernicious way Newsquest in Glasgow have gone about the process. Once again today in an editorial comment the Herald management try to blame it all on a few trade union militants - then how come 90%-plus voted for action in a secret postal ballot. Liars!

As well as trying to co-ordinate our responses to each set of cuts I've also been trying to do the rest of my work! I had a meeting yesterday to discuss the dispute at Reed Business Information which goes to ACAS on Monday, met with campaigners from War on Want about a range of international issues where we have joint concerns, met Chapel Officers from one of the national newspapers currently negotiating pay and had a meeting with BBC management over a long-running individual case (and hopefully have secured a process for resolving it).

This morning I had a telephone conference with members of the union's copyright committee to discuss how best to bolster our campaigning work on copyright, wrote to our sister union Unite about our work in the publishing industry and did a radio interview with Heart about the cuts announced earlier at the Gazette in north Essex.

Now for some lunch...

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