Socialist Worker

Quest for success

by Phil Turner
Issue No. 1862

UNION recognition victories at the Daily Telegraph and the latest by 200 journalists at Trinity Mirror in Wales - after a 15-year fight - show the transformation going on in the media industry. The latest issue of Better Read, the rank and file newspaper for media workers, analyses the progress made by the journalists' NUJ union and other unions in the last 12 months.

While strikes have brought victories, there have also been setbacks and there is a need to debate the way forward. The NUJ has a left wing general secretary in Jeremy Dear, but that hasn't guaranteed success against bosses who are digging in, like at Newsquest. So the question of how to rebuild the strength of the rank and file in the media unions is crucial.

The first strike by NUJ members in book publishing for 15 years took place at Macmillan in Oxford as the fight against low pay reached all sectors.

The strike by NUJ and Amicus-MSF union members was in protest at management imposing a pay rise of 2.1 percent. Book publishing is a notoriously poorly paid industry, and Oxford is an expensive place to live.

Unions won formal recognition at Macmillan Heinemann ELT last year, but managers have failed to negotiate over pay. Meanwhile at Newsquest Bradford - a division of the giant US media firm Gannett - NUJ members have voted for the third time this year to take strike action. In a postal ballot 75 percent voted to take strike action and 80 percent were in favour of action short of a strike.

The vote was the response from the chapel (union branch) to managing director David Coates's assertion that most journalists in his company are in favour of the latest pay offer.

This is a 2 percent rise plus a one-off discretionary bonus payment of between nothing and £400. Managers would decide which staff, if any, would get the extra cash. Newsquest Bradford made profits of £7.65 million last year. Two other Newsquest chapels have taken strike action against the 2 percent ceiling this year.

Those on the Bolton Evening News and Bury Times in Lancashire won a 3 percent uplift to their pay bands and additional long service payments. The NUJ national executive has pledged the union's full support for chapels in the Newsquest group in next year's pay round. The union needs to make it count so that the weight of the whole union is thrown into the fight.

To get your copy of Better Read phone 07810 824 223.

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Sat 26 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1862
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