Ownership, rights and public service broadcasting raised at TUC
8 September 2008
Media ownership, redundancy rights and public service broadcasting were among the issues raised by the NUJ at the TUC Congress. The NUJ had a clean sweep on the first day of the 2008 Congress in Brighton.
Six speakers led demands for action that were carried unanimously.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, made a stirring call for the defence of civil liberties. Five other delegates put the voice of journalists into the heart of labour movement decision-making.
New media ownership rules
The law governing media ownership must be changed to require companies taking over newspapers to guarantee their future and the quality of their journalism, was the call from Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ's new Deputy General Secretary.
Michelle Stanistreet told the TUC that journalism was under threat from "an ever-smaller group of wealthy companies motivated by profit and profit alone." She went on to say:
"If that means journalism on the cheap, well tough. It's time the public interest in well-resourced independent media, and not profit, was put first."
Stronger rights against redundancy
The TUC supported the NUJ's demand that employment law must be changed to allow unions to take action against unfair redundancies. National executive member Donnacha DeLong told delegates that the current legal minimum for consultation with unions, when fewer than 100 jobs are to go, is 30 days, which is not enough for the processes required to organise lawful industrial action.
Journalists at Trinity Mirror and the Telegraph group had been prevented by the law from stopping waves of job losses, he said.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
James Doherty, NUJ President, led attacks on the UK's new Equality and Human Rights Commission over the appointment as a commissioner of the leader of the Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards, who has been publicly hostile to homosexuality, which he has denounced as a "sin".
Speaking on behalf of the TUC's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Conference, he said it was:
"An indication of the pernicious rise of the right wing that he should be endorsed in such an important post."
Dangers to public service broadcasting
Public service broadcasting was being put at risk by commercial broadcasters and the BBC failing to invest in their staff, Peter Murray, NUJ Vice President, told the TUC. The BBC, he said, was using cuts in the licence fee as "an excuse to sack people and strip out an entire generation of workers from the industry."
He was supporting a call from sister union BECTU for new ways to fund public service programming without reducing the income of the BBC.
Tackling hate website
The fascist website Redwatch, which targets activists who campaign against the British National Party by posting their photos and personal details, should be banned, Tim Lezard, former NUJ President said.
"It is a cynical, brutal and violent way of intimidating people. The government claimed it could not take action because the ISP was overseas, but do you think if a website posted the personal details of members of the cabinet that they wouldn't take it down?"