Branch October 2020

With the threat of a second major wave of Covid-19, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, sets out how the union is supporting members’ well-being and batling on the industrial front to preserve jobs and secure fair deal for freelances

for a challenging winter ahead. Te union is providing a range


of resources to help members get through this crisis and NUJ Training, in collaboration with the union’s health and safety commitee, is now offering 90-minute webinars to branches and NUJ commitee members called Working Safely through the Pandemic. Each session will start with a short presentation identifying some of the challenges you may face in working safely – whether that’s from home, the office, or a blend of the two – followed by the chance to ask questions. Meanwhile we will be batling on behalf of members on the industrial front as the current furlough scheme comes to a close at the end of this month, with a clear focus on preserving jobs and standards of journalism. Trough the TUC the movement continues to push for a National Recovery Council, bringing trade unions together with government and industry to prioritise an economic recovery that puts jobs and livelihoods first. We are continuing to stress the gaps

in provision for freelances and the self-employed in dialogue with the Treasury, with a major new campaign launching across the union later this month to call for a fair deal for

s the Covid-19 infection rate rises and the UK and Irish governments put forward further rules and restrictions, it all bodes

freelances. My discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s stakeholder’s group are ongoing; the NUJ continues to raise the need for quarantine exemptions; a Brexit deal that enables journalists to cross borders with ease to do their jobs; a package of tax credits, to include Jobs for Journalists, advertising breaks and tax credits for digital and print subscriptions; as well as all other aspects of our NUJ News Recovery Plan. Tanks to all members who’ve taken

part in our safety survey – it’s generated really helpful contributions to our work to help shape the action plan of the new National Commitee for the Protection of Journalists which continues through the autumn. Only this week the union has had to call on the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland to investigate the failure of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to act on violent threats made against Sunday World reporter Patricia Devlin and her family. As well as the awful personal impact, we know how impunity for those who choose to threaten, harass and atempt to silence journalists has a collective chilling impact on the journalistic community. At a time when retraining and new

skills should be top of the government’s agenda, it was particularly head-slapping to learn of the bizarre decision to end the funding of the Union Learning Fund for England (ULF). Tis shows the hypocrisy of the Prime Minister who says he is commited to boosting the

delivery of skills. NUJ members have greatly benefited from the training and resources provided by the Federation of Entertainment Unions’ project over successive years. Independent analysis of the scheme has shown how it has contributed hugely to the economy. We will be joining the TUC’s public

#SaveUnionLearning campaign to rescue the union learning project and will be asking you to sign a petition telling Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, to reverse the decision. In 2019–20, the ULF supported more than 200,000 learners in workplaces across England – both union members and non- members. For every ULF £1 spent there is a return of £12.30: £7.60 to the worker, £4.70 to the employer. Branches should be geting right behind this campaign and writing to their local MPs. Watch out for more information on the NUJ and TUC websites. Rest assured the TUC will be doing all it

can to revoke this wrongheaded decision. In Solidarity,

Michelle Stanistreet


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