Socialist Worker

National Union of Journalists conference

by Phil Turner
Issue No. 1947

Iraq and the BBC dominated the NUJ journalists’ union conference in Scarborough last weekend.

BBC workers rightly described the jobs slaughter they face as “our Wapping” — in reference to Rupert Murdoch’s war against the print unions in the 1980s.

Delegates from every sector of the union condemned the attack. NUJ members recognised that BBC chief Mark Thompson is punishing BBC News after the Hutton whitewash over the death of government weapons scientist David Kelly.

Thompson — nicknamed Gnasher — plans backdoor privatisation while driving down conditions in one of the best organised sectors of the media.

Unfortunately, no clear strategy to resist was put forward at the conference. Immediate action could unite the NUJ and other BBC unions — Bectu and Amicus — as in the ITV pay strike.

But despite growing anger across newsrooms — particularly in Scotland — no date for a ballot was to be set before talks on Tuesday of this week.

The election is just the time for a strike to have maximum impact and boost confidence.

A one day strike is being discussed, but many know that will not be enough to win widespread solidarity.

A motion reiterating support for the Stop the War Coalition and seeking the support of the TUC for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq was carried overwhelmingly.

The NUJ Left group will meet in London in May to build support for the BBC workers.

About 35 NUJ delegates attended a conference fringe meeting with Yunus Bakhsh of Respect and Caroline Leckie, Scottish Socialist Party MSP.

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Sat 16 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1947
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