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Members share experiences at NUJ Publishing Summit

13 October 2009

Forty people attended the NUJ's publishing summit on Saturday to share their experiences of organising the union in the magazine and book industry.

Staff and freelances heard how some well-organised workplace chapels had been winning victories despite facing pay freezes and job cuts. It was agreed to hold more regular informal meetings of NUJ reps from across the publishing industry.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, opened the event and told of some union successes in the book sector. He said:

"At Scholastic, we proved in securing improved terms for voluntary redundancy and relocation that we can do something about cuts.
"At Chambers Harrap in Edinburgh, lobbying by the NUJ has resulted in the intervention of the European Works Council obstructing company plans to close the company.
"At Lexis Nexis, despite a worldwide pay freeze announced, the NUJ chapel secured a 2% across the board pay rise."

Anna Wagstaff, from the NUJ Oxford branch, said after the summit:

"There was a good discussion about the issues that matter to people in workplaces lead by the union reps who are doing the work in chapels.
"For example raising the relevance of the union beyond the people on the chapel committee was talked about and ideas were suggested.
"I felt there was a real sense of cohesion between the group – whether people were from magazines or books."

Jenny Lennox, NUJ assistant organiser in the publishing department, said:

"The summit gave people more confidence and a better understanding of their rights."

Fiona Swarbrick, also an Assistant Organiser in the NUJ publishing department, said:

"It was very useful for freelance and staff journalists in the magazine and book sector to air their views to each other and share their concerns."

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ Head of Publishing, said:

"We will follow up the summit by organising more activity between different workplace chapels and different groups.
"We need to bring people together for social events as well as to share information and experiences. We need to build a team spirit to defend jobs and working conditions in magazines and books."

Tags: , books, magazines, publishing, pay and conditions, redundancies, european works council, closure, chapels, freelance, reps