NUJ London branches forum

Branching together

AN ASSORTMENT of activists from the various London branches of the NUJ held an informal meeting on 1 December, to discuss ways in which branches across the capital can communicate with, and assist, each other in their various activities. Beside London Freelance Branch, there were reports from the Book, BBC World Service, Press and PR and Central London Branches. The last-named announced an open recruitment meeting for News International staff is to be held in Wapping on 15 January.

It was agreed to use these meetings as open informal gatherings for all members, to enable us to mobilise each other around our different campaigns and concerns. Forum attendees should seek to report back to branches. The forum will seek to meet quarterly - the next meeting being in March - and members of all London branches are welcome to attend.

For more information contact Tom Davies: email tomdaviesnuj@yahoo.co.uk


Meeting at the Lucas Arms, Gray's Inn Road, Monday December 1 2003. Present: Kyran Connolly, Molly Cooper (chairing), Jim Corrigall, Tom Davies, Jim Humphries, Michael Way, Barry White. Apologies: Tim Dawson, Martin Cloake.

Branch campaign updates

London Freelance: TD and MC outlined recent campaigns around copyright wrangles at the Independent and the BBC, the pending production of a rights at work leaflet for freelance subs, the fight for improved safety for photographers, and press/police liaison. They stressed the importance of smooth communications between staffers and freelances and outlined how the regular photographers' meetings and e{mail networks such as EPUK (for photographers) and UKSubs (sub-editors) sought to bring freelances together.

Book: KC outlined recent chapel-building drives at BCA, and disagreements over pay claims at Orion group. The branch is also putting forward a claim for new summer working practices (added time off etc) as is standard across the industry, even at non-unionised publishers such as Time Warner.

BBC World Service: MW explained that BBCWS is mainly a chapel-led branch at present. The campaign for the reinstatement of Adlii Hawwari and Abdul Hadi Jiad continues to cause discomfort to BBC managers. The head of the Arabic service had recently been "retired", for example. JC added that a petition of between 1300 and 1500 signatures was to be handed in at the Governors' meeting on 3 December. The pair's unfair dismissal tribunal is scheduled for May.

A campaign is being launched for South East England weighting for BBC staff. The branch is also to conduct a survey on racism at the BBC.

Central London: JH outlined the ongoing recruitment efforts at the Press Association ahead. Regular meetings and mailshots are being organised. An open recruitment meeting for News International staff is to be held in Wapping on 15 January. The branch is also trying to organise a national demonstration against the privatisation of public services.

Press and PR: BW said that the main issue remained the ongoing campaign, in conjunction with other public sector unions, for a £4000 a year London weighting for local government staff. There are also problems arising with the increasing politicisation of information and press services in certain councils and the increasing use of private consultants to "spin" above the heads of press staff. A specific code of practice for PR officers is planned.

Future campaigns

It was agreed, at BW's suggestion, to use these London activists' meetings as open informal gatherings for members and to mobilise each other around our various campaigns and activities. Forum attendees should seek to report back to branches. KC suggested that we seek to meet quarterly, which was generally agreed. MW suggested producing a newsletter at a future date as and when the forum developed.

Political fund

The LFB's suggestion of a meeting to debate the political fund issue was welcomed. MC said Thursday, February 12 had been pencilled in as a provisional meeting date.

Newsquest

MC said a demonstration was being planned outside Newsquest's Morden offices to highlight campaign for fair pay at the company. Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Council had expressed their support.

GLA

BW mentioned the need for the NUJ to have a voice in London-wide cultural initiatives such as, recently, the Olympic bid. Recent planning documents from the GLA had made no mention of the press. It needs to be established who speaks for the union on London-wide matters.

ADM

It was agreed that London delegates should get together before the next ADM to discuss areas of co-ordination and issues on which we might agree - and legitimately disagree.

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