A financial crisis in the journalists’ NUJ union dominated discussion at the annual conference in Newcastle last weekend.
There were important debates on how best to fight attacks on jobs and respond to the Leveson Inquiry’s spotlight on the media industry.
The conference voted to back cuts made by general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and the union leadership. Cuts include the loss of key jobs and the closure of the training department.
But the conference also passed a motion of censure about the way that the crisis had been handled. A call for an independent inquiry into a £45,000 severance deal for departing general secretary Jeremy Dear was also rejected.
The challenge coalesced around the initiative taken by the Financial Times chapel [workplace branch]. Their Alternative Recovery Plan was the subject of heated debate. They have now launched the NUJ Reform Group, which could become a pole of attraction for union members wanting a fightback.
The conference also gave its support to members at the Newsquest regional newspapers group in York. Workers there won a ballot and held a successful disruptive union meeting while the conference was taking place.
Members of the same group at Bradford are also considering coordinating action after winning their own ballot over a pay freeze. One motion passed commits the union to coordinated industrial action to fight attacks to jobs, pay and quality journalism, which activists need to push for.
One motion, which was rejected, argued that the NUJ missed an opportunity to make maximum use of the mood against Murdoch.
The union failed to call a march on Wapping to declare that destroying the unions led to a climate of fear that damaged journalism.
Socialist Worker is backing Dave Crouch who is standing in the election to the NUJ’s executive for London. For more go to ftnujchapel.wordpress.com