Poor pay and what to do

SIXTY NUJ activists gathered at Head Office on 19 November to discuss pay in the media and what can be done to improve it in those areas where it is poor, dreadful, or worse. This year's "Pay in the Media Summit" featured strong representation from freelances - as it must, in the interests of all members, too many clients being tempted to use us to undermine staff conditions.

Freelance Industrial Council presented detailed papers on strategy for organising to get better rates for freelances in general, and on the crisis in photography - an area of work which is mostly freelance. These included draft calculations of freelances' cost of doing business and on the relative costs of employing a staffer and engaging a freelance.

The finished versions of these ready-reckoners will be published in future Freelances and online - as aids to individual negotiations and guides for the eventual striking of more deals on minimum terms alongside staff agreements springing from union recognition.

Appalling rates in regional and local papers were a particular concern, as readers of the Rate for the Job and www.londonfreelance.org/rateswill have seen. Christina Zaba gave an inspiring account of members' organisation of both staff and freelances at the Western Daily Press and other Bristol titles where owner Northcliffe threatens £25M of cuts below current stingy budgets - see here for much more on this.

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