Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/370/6071
National Union of Journalists:
Organising against low pay
THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists (NUJ) organised a very successful conference on 6 November on how the union could organise a national fightback against low pay. Over 60 activists from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, north and south, took part.
"Journalists are all very well off and don't have to work that much for it either", I can hear some of our readers say. But a conference delegate showed how wrong this is: "I worked for a London-based newspaper. We were that badly paid, we had to dodge the tube fare. Once we got caught and had to pay a £10 fine. When the editor heard this, he was worried about how bad this would make the paper look. The paper always projects outrage about petty crime. He shut up when we told him we wouldn't do it if we were paid properly."
An NUJ survey found: "In 1986 journalists earned 96% of the salary of those working in higher education - today they earn 81.5%." NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear commented: "These results show that journalists have lost out by almost £5,700 compared to those in higher education and more than £11,000 in comparison to secondary school teachers."
At the conference, there was a very serious discussion on the way forward for a national pay campaign. There was universal agreement that the union has to strengthen grassroots structures, put a lot more effort into recruitment, educate a new layer of union reps and increase the number of recognised workplaces.
There have been 20 applications from groups of journalism students to set up student chapels of the NUJ. The NUJ will launch recruitment campaigns at universities and take measures to increase the integration of young members into branches.
A lot of delegates argued for national pay bargaining, to start putting unified pay claims within entire companies. There are difficulties, like very different pay structures in very different companies but the union should launch national pay campaigns where possible.
The union is also planning a series of protest rallies against low pay. Actions like leafleting employers' events and lobbying MPs and councillors will also be increased.
In The Socialist 13 November 2004:
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