After the floods come plague and pestilence. Emergency planning for swine flu pandemic now well under way...two staff now gone down with it. Hopefully quick action will contain any spread - so after you read this blog, wash your hands. And don't panic - just follow the advice!
So back to last week. Tuesday I met the union's bank before heading to the Gambian High Commission in London to protest at the arrest and trial of 7 journalists. The joint TUC, Amnesty International, NUJ event was well attended and a good launch to the global day of action.
On Wednesday morning I met Brendan Barber, the TUC General Secretary before heading to the TUC General Council at which I urged wider support for the campaign against top-slicing the BBC licence fee. Joined TUC President Sheila Bearcroft to judge the TUC's awards for reps - organising and health and safety - before shooting off to Parliament to meet John McDonnell MP and the leaders of the RMT, PCS, URTU and POA to discuss joint campaigning around rights at work, public services, the Equality Bill and other cross-union issues.
We also responded to the release of Alan Milburn's Unleashing Aspirations report which took up some of the issues we have been highlighting about access to journalism and how it is increasingly becopming the preserve of those who can afford it. The report falls short of what we want, which is proper and active enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, but it is a useful tool in highlighting the issue and moving it up the political agenda.
Thursday morning I was at the BBC with Bectu General Secretary Gerry Morrissey meeting HR to discuss upcoming negotiations on the move to Broadcasting House or W1 as the project is called and raising some issues regarding BBC pensions and expenses. Later on we had an NUJ/Bectu meeting to talk about recruitment and organisation in the commercial broadcasting sector.
Friday, I had a telephone conference with reps from Trinity Mirror in advance of the strike action planned for this Thursday at titles across the Midlands. I'll be heading up to join them on the picket lines. A second telephone conference with Jim Boumelha, Pierre Vicary and Michelle Stanistreet to discuss the consultation on the future direction of the International News Safety Institute which will be considered at their AGM in Malta. A quick management meeting rounded off the afternoon.
Friday night I was at Wembley - it may be the only time Tottenham get there this year so I wasn't going to miss the chance - for the mighty Wembley Cup watching the best team in the world...play Barcelona.
Saturday morning up far too early to head to Manchester for the NUJ day school on reporting the BNP. Ian Wood the Assistant Editor of the Manchester Evening News was really interesting on the debates they had had before launching their The Truth About the BNP campaign and members from papers where the BNP have a presence on local councils provoked good debate about the nature of coverage. We also touched on the issues of terminology, the physical threats by far right activists to journalists who write about them and sorting the myths from fact around issues such as housing, immigration and so on. A stimulating day.
This morning I'm catching up with all the emails I failed to answer last week (sorry!) and writing letters - to the union's lawyers and to the BBC, putting in place early arrangements for a Jobs Summit for the union's magazine sector (10 October - save the date), and putting the finishing touches to a branch newsletter.
Then it's the dentist...is it ok if i cry now?