Socialist Worker

NUJ annual conference dodges the critical issues

by Alan Gibson
Issue No. 2096

Delegates to the NUJ journalists' union conference were thrilled to hear reports of solid picket lines at the Express and Star's two centres when they gathered in Belfast for their annual conference last week.

Unfortunately, the thrill did not percolate into conference debates, and particularly into those around the biggest challenge facing the union – the BBC's onslaught on staffing levels at the BBC.

Staff have recently voted to accept a deal that avoids the need for compulsory redundancies, but many NUJ members are concerned that management is playing for time, and that the attacks will return.

Financial problems dampened spirits, as did the national executive's stress on bureaucratic changes to address them.

There was relief, however, over the question of Palestine. BBC journalist Alan Johnston, whose incarceration in Gaza so distressed delegates last year, brought conference to its feet after he thanked the president of the Palestinian syndicate of journalists, Naem Toubassi, for their help in securing his release last year.

Delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion, backed by the national executive, to support delegations to the West Bank and Gaza, overcoming controversy over the issue that mired last year's conference.

Media Workers Against the War was also well received at conference, culminating in a meeting of over 50 delegates addressed by Eamonn McCann and NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.

Many remained after the meeting had ended to discuss re-establishing a broad left group in the union, and decided to reconvene at the Media Workers Against the War conference in central London in May.


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Tue 8 Apr 2008, 19:57 BST
Issue No. 2096
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