Jeremy Dear has been elected as the new general secretary of the NUJ journalists’ union. In the final count Jeremy got 3,437 votes, a clear victory over his nearest rival Bernie Corbett, who ended with 2,159 after transfers from other eliminated candidates had been taken into account.
The excellent result is a boost for the left and anti-war activists. Jeremy has been the union’s national organiser and has been a key figure in the drive to rebuild the union after the years of derecognition by employers during the 1980s and 1990s.
Determined recruitment campaigns have won back union rights at a number of important regional newspapers and magazine publishers over the last year. In recent weeks Jeremy has also spoken out clearly against the war on Afghanistan.
During the election campaign for general secretary he spoke at the Media Workers Against the War rally in central London, which attracted hundreds. Activists in the NUJ are already facing new assaults from media bosses, many of who are pushing for major redundancies, and pay cuts and freezes.
Some are trying to use the excuse of the aftermath of 11 September for the attacks. A bigger factor is the downturn in advertising which has developed as the economy has slid towards recession.
The NUJ and its new leader will face important challenges in the months ahead. Building combative union organisation from the grassroots up will be the key to meeting those challenges.
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