Warning of strikes at the BBC over conditions

Industrial action could soon break out at the BBC in a clash over terms and conditions, delegates heard. This comes amid continued anger over equal pay problems at the corporation and cuts to its budget. Pierre Vicary, chair of the

Broadcasting Industrial Council and newly elected vice-president of the NUJ, said: “National strikes could be on their way.” He added: “Stop using us

as a grab-all. Why should the BBC become part of the Department of Work & Pensions and pay for the free licences of the over-75s?” Talks over proposed changes to terms and conditions have been continuing for more than a year and have angered many journalists at the corporation.

Pierre said they could soon be reaching a crunch point. The concern over these

proposals and the high- profile equal pay campaign at the BBC has helped recruit new NUJ members, some of whom attended DM. A motion from the BBC

World Service was passed, instructing the NEC to “continue fighting any detrimental changes to members’ terms and conditions at our public service

broadcaster, by whatever means are deemed appropriate and agreed by the union’s structures.” In addition, DM voted to

support journalists working at Red Bee Media. David Gallagher of BBC London said: “These people who edit subtitles and the EPG [electronic programme guide] were once part of the BBC. Since then, they have suffered a toxic combination of outsourcing, offshoring and extreme cost-cutting measures which have seriously degraded the editorial operation.” Delegates also instructed the NEC to support NUJ members at the Al-Araby TV channel. Members and reps have complained of victimisation and Qatari owner Fadaat Media has refused to talk to the union.

delegate meeting 2018 inbrief...

“ Union subscriptions rise is rejected

A move to increase subscription payments for NUJ members was rejected by the delegate meeting. The NEC had asked for authority to raise subs by between 50p and 60p a month in the hope of raising

about £120,000 per year in extra income.

Although the union’s

finances are considerably stronger than they were at the last DM, the NEC called for a subs rise to help fund day-to-day work and staffing until income from letting

floors in Headland House became fully flowing in 2020.

All office space in the

renovated headquarters is now let but tenants have introductory rent-free or low-rent periods. However, some delegates,

including newly elected NEC member for London Natasha Bernal, complained that the rises fell disproportionately on lower-paid members. A subs increase requires the backing of a two-thirds majority of delegates, which the motion failed to achieve.

Use parliamentary group, MP urges

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts pledged to advance the interests of the NUJ and journalism in Westminster as part of the union’s cross-party parliamentary group. The MP for Dwyfor Meirionnyd told delegates that she understood very well the attrition taking place in the industry. A former journalist and long-standing NUJ member, she said that her old

newspaper the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald had suffered a 28 per cent decline in circulation and that no major Welsh title was now printed in Wales. She told NUJ members to make the most of the parliamentary group:

“We can amplify matters and concerns for you in Westminster. We work in a cross-party fashion and there is a will to defend press freedom.”

Stop using us as a grab-all. Why should the BBC become part of the Department of Work & Pensions and pay for free licences for the over-75s?

Pierre Vicary

EVENT TO EXAMINE POVERTY REPORTING The union will organise a national conference looking at the reporting of poverty following negative depictions of poorer people and benefits issues on TV and in print. The move follows the work by Rachel Broady and the Manchester & Salford branch in highlighting the issue and drafting guidelines..

‘ONE UNION’ TAKE TO BOOST RECRUITMENT Following an increase in members in the union’s new media, digital and independent broadcasting sectors, delegates called for a ‘one union’ rather than a sectoral approach to recruitment to further boost membership. Other motions called on the NEC to encourage branches to engage with hyperlocal websites.

SUPPORT TO FIGHT ONLINE ABUSE The union is to support journalists who suffer online abuse with measures including: an awareness campaign; a toolkit for journalists to protect themselves; guides on gathering evidence; encouraging the reporting of incidents to platforms and the police; and lobbying politicians.

60+ GROUP TO HELP YOUNG JOURNALISTS The NUJ’s 60+ council is to work on mentoring programmes to support young journalists and those working alone such as community website editors. A fringe meeting held by the council heard from a young first-time delegate who said young journalists would value the support of experienced colleagues.

MANIFESTO PLEDGES ON WORK WELCOMED DM welcomed pledges by the Labour Party and Scottish National parties to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act and commitments by Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats to introduce employment rights including a ban on fees for employment tribunals.

theJournalist | 07

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