Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 1 May, 2013 - 9:31

Journalists working for regional newspapers across the country are campaigning for better pay.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has launched a petition calling for an end to a pay freeze at Newsquest.

Editorial staff have endured a pay freeze — in real terms a pay cut – four years in the last five while workloads steadily rise as employees are not replaced and titles expanded.

Newsquest, which owns 17 daily and more than 200 weekly titles around the UK, is owned by American media giant Gannett, which is to pay out $1.3bn to shareholders over the next two years.

A senior journalist with two years’ experience earns a typical £21,000 before tax, but company accounts show Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson received £598,441 in salary in 2011.

An NUJ member who works for Newsquest said: “Year on year we are being flogged harder and harder just to satisfy shareholders with a pay-out.

“All we want is a fair wage which recognises our working conditions and allows us to live.

“Editorial comment pieces tell readers Newsquest is ‘investing in quality journalism’, but from behind the scenes the opposite is true.”

Sign the petition here

Teachers strike against Academy bid

Teachers at Hamstead Hall School in Birmingham struck on Thursday 25 April, in protest at plans to turn their school into an Academy.

National Union of Teachers officials denounced the school management’s “total lack of consultation” in the decision to bid for Academy status. “The teachers don’t know why the school wants to become an academy and are worried the school times and the terms of their employment will change”, an NUT officer said.

Teachers are also worried by the school’s plan to “sponsor” a local primary school if it achieves Academy status, possibly paving the way for the primary school to become an Academy too.

The strike closed the school entirely for Years 8, 9, and 10, and restricted classes in other years. Over 40 teachers picketed the school.

Messages of support can be sent to joint NUT school rep Thomas Giles.

Sheffield drugs workers’ anti-cuts fight

In February a 10% cut was announced to two of Sheffield’s drug service budgets, to run from this April.

Unite members have been fighting the cut by the funding body and the threat of redundancies from our employer.

Low pay, hard emotional work, and an endless carousel of TUPE transfers and redundancies make the voluntary care sector a tough place to work and to organise. Despite this, in one service (the Arundel Street Project), Unite members have gone from a few members to 100% density in two years. Faced with this year’s budget cut, a powerful media campaign, a lively demonstration involving workers and service users, and coordinated lobbying of MPs and councillors heaped pressure on the Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team commissioners.

Meanwhile, frequent members’ meetings at the workplace kept the staff united and the decisions democratic. Workers refused to accept management’s insistence on the need to make these supposedly “fair” cuts. Unfortunately, the commissioners have not backed down. Workers have been able to block compulsory redundancies and several have accepted tiny reductions in their weekly hours in order to protect those colleagues most at risk of being picked off by management.

The next step is to draw together drug workers from across the city, and across the unions, in order to prevent the next tranche of cuts, likely to come early in 2014.

Organising resistance in the voluntary sector is hard, but can and must be done.

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