Thursday, December 20

Justice: Social Media

House of Lords / 19 Dec 2012 : Column WS211

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): My right honourable and learned friend the Attorney-General (Dominic Grieve) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today launched a public consultation on his interim guidelines for prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media.

The guidelines set out the additional considerations which are relevant when prosecutors assess whether a prosecution is required in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Each case will be considered on its own facts and on its own merits, and prosecutors have the task of balancing the fundamental right of free speech and the need to prosecute serious wrongdoing. The interim guidelines make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment or which breach court orders on the one hand; and other communications, eg grossly offensive communications, on the other. The first group will be prosecuted robustly, whereas the second group will be prosecuted only if they cross a high threshold. A prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.

The guidelines have been issued on an interim basis, as they are the subject of a public consultation exercise that will last for three months. The DPP will publish his final guidelines next year once he has considered the responses to the consultation. Copies of the interim guidelines have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Source: Hansard

Saturday, December 15

After Labour's previous 2008 treachery, another stab in the back for disabled people, as they are sold down the river again, this time by the Coalition.

Remploy was a founding element of the 1945 welfare state, originally designed to give jobs to soldiers injured in World War Two. 83 factories were established across the UK

However Work and Pensions ­Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is closing 36 of the remaining 54 specialist factories, making 1,500 disabled people redundant

When the cretin was confronted by workers at the House of Commons, he sneered “Is it a kindness to stick people in some factory where they are not doing any work at all? Just ­making cups of coffee?

Union chiefs fear that continuity of employment, terms and conditions, including pension payments will not be maintained, whilst Remploy workers are aware that more than 80 per cent of those who took voluntary redundancy in previous cuts in 2008 and 2011 are still unable to find work

Worker Tony Collins, said: “I love coming to work. What will happen to me? It’s difficult enough getting a job for normal people. I don’t want to live on benefits.

Phil Davies, national secretary of the GMB union said: “All this is giving people interested in bidding for these factories a free hand to do what they want. There is nothing in place to make them abide by the TUPE.”He added: “This whole process is wide open for asset strippers, because they won’t have to pick up the cost of redundancy payments.”

TUPE: When a business changes from one owner to another, existing employment contracts should be protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations.

As usual the Taxpayers will unbeknowingly be robbed by subsidising the sale of Remploy factories to these thieving asset strippers
Pictures show a presentation of a cheque (14th Dec) from Birmingham and Coventry NUJ, for Remploy strikers hardship fund. Photos were taken in poor visibility and pouring rain, outside the gate on the public highway, to allay Management fears of a comeback, for allowing them to be taken inside the premises

Copyright Stalingrad O’Neill
contact if you wish to reproduce photo

Tuesday, December 11

  • 'no foreign language services can be opened or closed without the written authority of the Foreign Secretary'

BBC: World Service

Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria have been used in deciding which BBC World Service language services to cut or reduce; and what weighting is given to (1) the audience numbers, (2) the circumstances of the listeners, and (3) their ability to access other trustworthy sources of news. [HL3811]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The BBC World Service is managerially and editorially independent and it is for the BBC to decide how services are managed. Under the terms of the broadcasting agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the BBC World Service, no foreign language services can be opened or closed without the written authority of the Foreign Secretary. As part of the BBC World Service's strategy for budget reductions, in January 2011 the Foreign Secretary approved the BBC Trust's proposal to close five services: Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, Portuguese for Africa and English for the Caribbean.

The decision to close these services and to make changes in other services (including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Russian) was based on a number of factors including the relative importance of each market, the availability of other national and regional independent or free media, audience levels and best predictions for future impact.
House of Lords / 10 Dec 2012 : Column WA189

Wednesday, November 28

  • 'Can it really make sense to cut the BBC World service by 16%, leading to the loss of 32 language services and 650 jobs'
BBC: World Service
Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty's Government by how much the BBC World Service budget has been reduced in the current financial year; and what plans they have for funding the World Service in the future.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My Lords, the budget for the BBC World Service for the 2011-12 financial year was just over £255 million. It was reduced by £11 million to £244.2 million for the current financial year and will reduce by a further £4 million to £240 million in the financial year 2013-14. From April 2014, the BBC World Service will be funded from the licence fee instead of from FCO grant in aid.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but at a time of phenomenal uncertainty in the world can it really make sense to cut the BBC World service by 16%, leading to the loss of 32 language services and 650 jobs and an estimated fall in audiences of some 30 million people? In particular, should we not think again before savagely reducing medium-wave transmissions to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Israel at a moment when the region is in total crisis and the voice of reason is in such short supply? In this 80th anniversary year of the BBC World Service, surely it is a moment to celebrate its extraordinary achievements in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law rather than so short-sightedly diminishing this country's influence right across the globe.
Read more: House of Lords / 27 Nov 2012 : Column 83

Friday, November 23

Inspired Union: Strategies For Journalism To Flourish

NUJ freelances displayed an innovative range of strategies to survive and prosper at a one-day conference.  A capacity audience packed the event to hear from more than twenty speakers describing initiatives including: instant-video documentary making, selling into new foreign markets, self-publishing via Kindle, and creating iPad app publications.

Other novel funding sources and work models included crowd-funding foreign photographic assignments, working as a journalist on behalf of brands, cross-funding journalism with authoring corporate ‘white papers’ and, a number of successful co-operatively produced publications.

The event, organised by the London Freelance Branch, aided by the NUJ’s Freelance Office, was held at the London Welsh Centre on 17 November 2012.  Open to all, in excess of 200 people attended, more than half of them women, many of whom contributed to the lively event with their own questions and experiences.
Read more:   New Model Journalism

Monday, November 12

  • Paralysed on one side, unable to speak properly, blind in one eye summoned to Atos work capacity assessment, suffered a stroke whilst attending, then told he was to lose his disability benefits and died the day after the benefit was stopped!
EDM 687: Work Capability Assessment And Day Of Remembrance
That this House wishes to record the case of Mr Brian McArdle who, having suffered a blood clot on his brain, was left paralysed on one side, unable to speak properly and blind in one eye and yet was summoned to an Atos work capacity assessment, before which he suffered a further stroke and was eventually informed he was to lose his disability benefits; notes with sadness the Mr McArdle died from a heart attack the day after his benefits were stopped and that his 13 year old son Kieran wrote to Atos to tell the company that their assessments `are killing genuine people like my dad'; and appreciates why disability campaigners like Susan Archibald are calling for the suspension of Atos assessments, and why Jim Moore and other campaigners are calling for 3 December to be a day of remembrance for all Atos victims.

Sponsors: McDonnell, John  /  House of Commons / Date tabled: 05/11/2012

Tuesday, November 6

NUJ November Branch Meeting

Tuesday 20th November
Carrs Lane Church Centre
Carrs Lane
B4 7SX

6:00 pm for 6:30 start

Any apologies to branch chair:


1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of October  meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes - BBC what next?

6) Any other business

Monday, November 5

York & Bradford Pay Protest Action Stepped Up
NUJ journalists working for Newsquest in York and in Bradford continue to protest against their unfair treatment with industrial action. After five years' service on Newsquest Bradford titles, journalists on the weeklies earn £19,672 and on the dailies £22,426. Since 2009, staff at York and Bradford have had a single 2 per cent rise in 2011 while the Retail Price Index has increased by 12 per cent in that period. Yet the figures show a £44,000 "share-based payment" for senior staff at Newsquest Yorkshire and North East.

All this week begining Monday 5th November journalists in York and Bradford will take industrial action. Staff at York will hold a mandatory chapel meeting at 10am every day next week and staff in Bradford will hold a mandatory chapel meeting on Wednesday from noon.
Read more

Wednesday, October 31

  A Freelance Lifeboat in the Perfect Storm - New Ways to Make Journalism Pay

NUJ London Freelance Branch is hosting a one-day conference in central London on Saturday 17 November, designed to help freelances broaden what they're offering, find new markets, enhance their skills and become more profitable. 

Builds on the success of the 2010 conference of the same name. It will give NUJ members and non-members invaluable insights from leading writers, photographers and commissioners about the way today's media have evolved, the new opportunities that have developed, and the techniques and tools that can be used to their advantage (despite it all!).
Further information: NUJ Freelance Conference Site
Early Day Motion 656: Radio Bar Kulan
That this House registers its concern about the working conditions and labour rights abuses at the radio station, Radio Bar Kulan(RBK), run by British PR company Albany Associates with funding from the UN; notes that a petition to the UN Secretary General's special representative for Somalia, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has been signed by over 40 journalists' and trade union associations, including the International Federation of Journalists, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), the Trades Union Congress of Great Britain and the Federation of Somali Trade Unions; and supports the petition's call to end these labour rights violations at RBK, to restore a working atmosphere that enhances respect for workers and human rights and to compel Albany to engage in genuine negotiations with the legitimate leadership of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) for the defence and representation of RBK workers in Kenya and Somalia, in particular regarding those sacked or forced to resign and to stop attacks on NUSOJ by Albany Associates.

Sponsors: Mitchell, Austin/ Bottomley, Peter / Corbyn, Jeremy / Cunningham, Alex / Llwyd, Elfyn / McDonnell, John        House of Commons / Date tabled: 30/10/2012

Put your MP to work demand they sign EDM 656
Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through: WriteToThem.Com

Sunday, October 28

Online Student Registration

Any person aged 16 or over and in higher education who is studying journalism or who practises student journalism in a medium supported by the National Union of Students or the Union of Students in Ireland, and who satisfies the NEC that he or she intends to pursue a career in journalism, is eligible to apply for student membership of the NUJ. If you are still at secondary school, you will need to wait until you leave before you can apply.

NUJ Student membership costs £25/€35.70 for the duration of your course.

Online Joining is for UK based Students only.

Student Applicants from the Republic of Ireland should download the Irish Student Application Form from the the 'Join Us' section on the main NUJ site and forward the completed form with photos directly to the Dublin Office.

Thursday, October 25

Birmingham: Equal Pay Ruling Opens Door for Women to Take Employers to Court

Employers face the prospect of battling discrimination claims years after an employee has left their company following a landmark Supreme Court ruling yesterday.

More than 170 women who worked in low-paying jobs for Birmingham City Council and claim they were paid less than their male colleagues won the right to have their discrimination case heard in the courts.

The ruling means that historical equal-pay disputes can be heard in the civil courts and not just in employment tribunals, which only deal with cases that are brought within six months of someone leaving their job. The dispute has been rumbling on for more than three years. The women, who worked as cleaners, cooks, caterers and care staff, said they were excluded from getting bonuses that were handed to employees in traditionally male-dominated jobs such as refuse collection.
Read more: Independent 24/10/12

Wednesday, October 24

EDM 618: Leveson Inquiry & the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the BBC
That this House notes with concern the recent controversy over allegations of serious criminal offences committed by Jimmy Savile and the subsequent questions that have been raised over the culture, practices and ethics of the BBC; further notes the calls for an independent inquiry; agrees that the BBC should not dictate the terms of an inquiry into itself; further notes that the Leveson Inquiry is not yet concluded and that Lord Justice Leveson himself said that he would look into anything that arose that he felt impacted onthe work of the inquiry; further notes that the Leveson Inquiry has experience of running an inquiry parallel to a criminal investigation; and believes that given its remit the Leveson Inquiry would be incomplete if it did not include an investigation into the culture, practices and ethics of the BBC.

Sponsors: Main, Anne     House of Commons / Date tabled: 23/10/2012

Tuesday, October 23

EDM 609: Blacklisted WorkersThat this House believes in justice for blacklisted workers; notes that the 44 construction companies exposed as blacklisters by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation of the Consulting Association escaped without penalty or punishment; is alarmed that in recent evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee representatives of the ICO confirmed that they had seized only five to 10 per cent of files held by the Consulting Association; further believes that companies guilty of blacklisting must be barred from tendering for public procured contracts; is concerned that a recent court case revealed that the police and security services may have been complicit in the Consulting Association's activities and that blacklist records were kept on academics and journalists as well as thousands of construction workers; insists that the ICO notifies all persons listed on the Consulting Association blacklist files directly in the same way victims were notified in the phone hacking scandal; demands that compensation be paid retrospectively to all victims of blacklisting; calls for a public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal so that there can be no cover up; accepts that the existing blacklisting regulations offer no protection and are not fit for purpose and that it should be a criminal offence to supply, compile, solicit or use information in connection with a prohibited list; and further believes that the blacklisting of workers must no longer be part of our society.

Sponsors: Rotheram, Steve               House of Commons / Date tabled: 19/10/2012

Friday, October 19

BBC World Service Cuts are a 'Terrible Assault on a Much-Loved Institution'

Following the announcement on Thursday 18 October that the BBC plan to cut another 73 jobs from the World Service, the NUJ has urged George Entwistle not to make the same mistakes as his predecessor.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: "These job cuts fly in the face of the new director general's commitment to sustaining quality programming at the BBC.

"The World Service is prized around the world – slashing journalistic jobs and cutting programmes is a terrible assault on a much-loved institution that provides a lifeline to listeners around the world.

"Instead of pressing on with these cuts, George Entwistle should be taking the opportunity to rethink the approach of his predecessor, and seize the chance to push for a renegotiation of the licence fee settlement. The deal, clinched behind closed doors in 2010, froze the licence fee and foisted an additional £340million of spending commitments on the BBC, setting the corporation on a path of decline that threatens our world-acclaimed public service broadcaster – it's time for a fresh start and a a real commitment to quality programming and journalism."

Tuesday, October 2

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - October Branch Meeting

Tuesday 16th October

The Weston Suite
Belgrade Theatre
Corporation Street
Assemble 6:15 for 6:30 pm start

Any apologies to branch chair:


1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of July meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) Any other business

Attached uncorrected minutes of September branch meeting.


Branch Member John O takes on 'Information Commissioner'

John O spent last Thursday and Friday at an Information Rights Tribunal hearing, where he was appealing a decision of the Information Commissioner, not to reveal in its' entirety an 'Immigration Blacklist' set up by the UK Border Agency that has been operating since February 2011.

The hearing was heavily balanced in favour of the 'Information Commissioner' as John O and his legal team were excluded from part of the hearing to allow the Foreign and Common Wealth Office to give their evidence to the Tribunal in secret.

There was no decision on the day and John O will have to wait until the tribunal hands it down.

Forthcoming legislation will allow the Government national and local where they have been taken to court to have the public/Journalists banned from all or part of the hearings.

UK Home Office Fights Ruling That It Must Disclose 'Immigration Blacklist'
The UK's Home Office [has appealed] against a decision of the Information Commissioner which requires it to disclose an 'immigration blacklist' of 44 countries to an immigration rights campaigner. Citizens of countries on the list face extra immigration checks and are required to provide more evidence in support of visa applications because of higher levels of immigration fraud among applications from those countries.

The immigration activist, John O, sought disclosure of the list because he argued that it was inherently unfair that people might be discriminated against on the basis that they came from a country which is on the list. He put in a 'freedom of information (FOI) request' to the government. The government is obliged to hand over information sought under an FOI request unless there are good reasons for keeping the information secret.

The UK government opposed John O's FOI request on the basis that to disclose the list would cause offence to the countries named on it and might lead to retaliatory action against British travellers. It might also lead to a worsening of diplomatic relations between the UK and countries named. It might even risk British contracts with the governments of named countries.
Read more: <>, 28 September 2012


Yorkshire Will See Industrial Action this Friday
NUJ members working for Newsquest in York will be taking strike action on Friday, 5 October as management refused them a pay increase this year – it means that they have not had one in three of the past four years.
Read more here . . . .

Resolution on Safety of Journalists Adopted by UN Human Rights Council
The 21th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution calling for "States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference".

Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said:  "The resolution is a tremendous boost to our global campaign for the protection of journalists and we commend states which tabled and supported it, but states must now show their good faith by implementing in earnest the resolution and not leave it to gather dust on shelves in the halls of UN offices in Geneva."
Read More here . . . .


Minimum Wage Increase is Real Terms Pay Cut, Says TUC

Government plans to increase the minimum wage by 1.8 per cent for adult workers and freeze the rate for young workers will result in the lowest paid suffering a real terms pay cut, the TUC said today .

The TUC said that with inflation running at 2.9 per cent (RPI), around 940,000 people, two-thirds of whom are women, would see a further squeeze on their living standards, with young people being hit the hardest.

Commenting on the new rates, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “While we are pleased that government has rejected the siren calls of some employers to freeze the minimum wage for adult workers and apprentices, these increases are still far below inflation and will leave the lowest paid facing a real terms cut.

“These new rates are a particular blow to younger people who will face the biggest hit on their living standards. There is no evidence that the minimum wage has had an adverse impact on young people’s employment so it is hard to see the logic behind their pay freeze.

“Today’s rate increases do not do enough to help hard-pressed families.  We need a bolder increase next year otherwise the real incomes of minimum wage workers will continue to fall, along with consumer demand.”
Tim Lezard - Union News, 1st October 2012


Remploy  [Bro Jonathan Peasley GMB union spoke at September meeting]

Lord Roberts of Llandudno  to ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Remploy factories have been closed as a result of their decision to withdraw their subsidy from Remploy.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Of the 27 factories and associated business identified by the Remploy board for closure and the board’s subsequent announcement on 10 July 2012, five factories have closed and 19 factories have ceased trading.

By 14 September, 977 factory employees have been made redundant.

Those former Remploy employees who are disabled and were made compulsorily redundant can now receive support from the People Help and Support Package. This package includes personalised support and the Government have made £8 million available to fund this delivery across the UK.House of Lords: 1st October 2012


Wednesday, September 5

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - September Branch Meeting

Tuesday 18th September 2012
6:00 pm for 6:30 pm start
Comfort Zone Serviced Apartments
Reception; Apt 5 Parkside
5 Ridley Street
B1 1SA

Please note this is a new venue

Any apologies to branch chair:

1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of July meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) Any other business


Unions Glad To See The Back Of "Disastrous" Lansley
Unite's head of health, Rachael Maskell said: "Jeremy Hunt as the new Health Secretary has a real opportunity to ride the public mood and ensure the NHS remains a universal service, free at the point of delivery to all those in need.
Read more:  Tim Lezard - <>  Union News, 5th September 2012

Week of Strikes Begins Over Remploy Factories Sale
"We may not win this fight," says one leading union activist. "But we will leave these factories with our pride and dignity intact."
Read more: <> Union 03/09/12

Three million people trapped in jobs that don't pay enough - TUC
A million more workers are under-employed now than on the eve of the recession in early 2008, according to a TUC analysis of official figures published today. The number of under-employed workers - those doing part-time jobs because they can't find full-time ones or wanting more hours in their current jobs - has increased by 42 per cent over the last four years to reach 3.3 million.
Read more;  Tim Lezard - <> Union News, 4th September 2012

London Met unions slam 'act of aggression by UKBA' against students
Unions at London Metropolitan University say they will oppose any student being forced off the campus as a result of the decision by the UK Border Agency to revoke its license to grant visas to international students.
Read More: by Pete Murray - <> Union News, 3rd September 2012

'Too Young for a Pension, too Old to Work'
TUC analysis of official employment statistics concludes Coalition is wrong to raise the state pension age without first addressing health inequalities which force people out of work well before they can draw state pension.
Read more: <> Union 03/09/12

EDM 441: Contractors And The Living Wage
That this House supports the living wage as a means of ensuring that people are able to have a minimum decent standard of living; notes that many local authorities and other public agencies have implemented the living wage; further notes with concern that many private sector companies working on public sector contracts, such as MITIE, do not pay the living wage; believes that this creates a divide between those directly employed in the public sector and those working on public sector contracts for a private company, including those who are employed to do exactly the same job as public sector employees; acknowledges and supports the principles behind the proposed Living Wage (Scotland) Bill currently being consulted on by the Scottish Parliament; and calls on the Government to introduce a similar bill to ensure that all companies such a MITIE, who are awarded public sector contracts, pay their employees the living wage.

Sponsors: Clark, Katy  /  Corbyn, Jeremy  /  Durkan, Mark
<>Date tabled: 03/09/2012


EDM 469: Peterloo Massacre Memorial
That this House notes that on 16 August 1819 a peaceful rally at St Peter's Fields, Manchester, of 60,000 pro-democracy campaigners men, women and children was attacked by armed cavalry resulting in 15 deaths and over 600 injuries; believes that it is now time for a permanent memorial to the Peterloo Massacre to remember those killed and injured and the impact it had on the fight for democracy; further notes that, in a 2006 survey by The Guardian, Peterloo was voted the second most radical event from British history without a proper monument; welcomes Manchester City Council's U-turn over plans to mark Peterloo with a set of commemorative gates; urges the council to install a prominent, explanatory and respectful monument and to work with campaigners and residents to find a fitting tribute; further believes that it is vitally important that there is democratic involvement in how to mark this significant event, and condemns the Council's proposal that a panel of just three councillors from the administration should make the final decision; further urges the Council to consider holding a memorial design competition and to ensure the public are involved throughout the process; and calls for a detailed design brief to be worked up to ensure that the memorial is sited in a prominent location that it is informative of what happened and that it is respectful of those people who gave their lives.

Sponsors: Leech, John /  Brooke, Annette  /  Hemming, John  /  Reid, Alan  /  Sanders, Adrian /  Ward, David

<>Date tabled: 03/09/2012

Put your MP to work demand they sign EDM 441 and EDM 469

Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through: WriteToThem.Com

Friday, August 17

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - August Branch Meeting

Tuesday 21st August 2012
6:00 pm for 6:30 pm start
Coventry Artspace
16 Lower Holyhead Rd
 CV1 3AU

Please note 'Coventry Artspace' this is a new venue

1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of July meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) Any other business

Friday, August 3

68 Too Late Too Work - Too Late Too Retire
This Government's new pension legislation could increase the retirement age to 68. This would be the highest state pension age in Europe. Life expectancy is increasing – but government figures show that women only stay healthy to 69 and men to 67.

Please email David Cameron now and tell him how damaging these changes will be to workers in the UK, please do it now and Email this link to all your colleagues

Your NUJ branch can also back the campaign:

Wednesday, July 18

Olympics Legal Guidelines

We have just added some guidance for journalists and photographers covering the Olympic Games. View this information at the separate page at the top of this blog Olympics Guidelines

Friday, July 13

Iraq: Cybercrimes Law Violates Free Speech
Badly Written Provisions and Draconian Punishments Violate Due Process and Free Speech. A new draft law on information technology crimes would restrict free speech in violation of international law and poses a severe threat to journalists, whistleblowers, and peaceful activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The pending law includes vague provisions that would allow Iraqi authorities to harshly punish expression they decide constitutes a threat to governmental, social, or religious interests. The Council of Representatives, the parliament, should not approve the law without revising it to remove the rights restrictions.
Read more: Human Rights Watch, 12/07/12

Wednesday, July 11

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - July Branch Meeting

Tuesday, 17th July 2012
Red Peppers Restaurant & Bar
117 Wharfside Street
The Mailbox
Birmingham B1 1RF
Meet 18:00 for 18:30 start

1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of June meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) Final Motions to DM

7)  Financial Crisis - update:

8) Any other business

Friday, July 6

Media Oversight: Transfer of Responsibilities

Lord Whitty to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will reconsider their decision to transfer responsibility for media, broadcasting, digital, telecommunications and oversight of Ofcom from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, there are currently no plans to do so.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that rather disappointing reply. I think the House and the world understand why, in the BSkyB case, the Prime Minister had to remove responsibility from a Minister who appeared to be prejudiced in one direction and give it to a Minister in a different department who we now know to be prejudiced in another direction. However, that is not my point. At the same time, and with no logic, the Government transferred whole swathes of responsibility not just for BSkyB and broadcasting but for media as a whole-digital, telecommunications and oversight of the key regulator, Ofcom. Why was that done and who has benefited? It is not clear to me that consumers, small businesses hoping to compete, or the public interest have benefitted. Surely competition and consumer protection should be paramount.
Read more: House of Lords / 5 July 2012 : Column 783

Thursday, July 5

Early day motion 327: Media Standards  [NUJ Rocks]
That this House commends the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for its work in improving media standards and championing quality journalism; notes that the NUJ is a core participant at the Leveson Inquiry; believes that this is fitting as the NUJ represents thousands of journalists throughout the press including national and local newspapers; supports the NUJ's campaign for a Conscience Clause for journalists, which will protect them in their workplaces if they are asked to carry out work that would compromise their journalistic ethics; believes that the Press Complaints Commission failed as a regulatory body and should be replaced by a truly independent body which has press freedom and high journalistic standards at its core and which includes representatives of ordinary journalists and the wider public in a co-regulatory approach; further believes that in order to be effective such a body needs to be underpinned by statute with a press ombudsman to mediate with the public; and supports such a body having the power to hear appeals from the ombudsman and administer an ethical code, such as the NUJ code of conduct, as well as the powers of investigation and the ability to decide on punishments including fines and compensation for newspapers which breach the code.

Sponsors: McDonnell, John / Clark, Katy / Mitchell, Austin
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

EDM 326: Local Newspapers as Community Assets
That this House supports local newspapers as a valued part of the community across all parts of the UK; believes they should be designated as community assets under the Localism Act 2012; supports such an extension under the Act as it will allow threatened newspapers to explorealternative ownership models; further believes that local newspapers are able to report on and hold to account local politicians in ways that the national media is not able to do and that local newspapers are essential to local business through advertising; and calls on the Government to convene discussions with local newspaper groups and the National Union of Journalists in order to safeguard this invaluable source of local news across the country.

Sponsors: Mitchell, Austin / Edwards, Jonathan / McDonnell, John
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

EDM 325: Commercialization in the BBC
That this House notes with dismay the email sent to all BBC staff working in the Global News department from Peter Horrocks, the Director of BBC Global News, which asks staff to generate money making ideas for the BBC; further notes that the email states that staff will be required to exploit new commercial opportunities as part of their appraisal process; condemns such an idea as threatening the ethos at the heart of the BBC's public service broadcasting; believes that ordering staff to focus on commercial ideas will distort the Corporation's fundamental news-gathering and reporting objectives; further believes that journalists working for the Global News Service, which includes the BBC World Service, work in some of the most challenging terrain in the world and can only carry out their work as impartial reporters rather than money gatherers; and calls on the BBC to abandon this ill conceived initiative.

Sponsors: Mitchell, Austin / McDonnell, John
Date tabled: 04/07/2012

Tuesday, July 3

Sri Lanka: Halt Harassment of Media
 The Sri Lankan government should immediately end harassment of media outlets and journalists in violation of the right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today. In the three years since the end of the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has expanded its efforts to silence critical views.
Read more: Human rights Watch, 03/07/12

Hungary: Failings on Media Warrant EU Action

ungary’s clampdown on media freedom, through several problematic media laws, has given rise to mounting EU and Council of Europe concern. In February, Kroes urged Hungary to seek advice from the Council of Europe on media reform, which Hungary failed to do. The Council of Europe prepared an analysis nonetheless, highlighting a range of problems that should be addressed for Hungary to comply with European Convention standards. Ignoring the Council of Europe’s advice, the Hungarian government submitted to parliament for vote on May 25, 2012, amendments to its media laws that not only largely failed to address concerns but also introduced additional restrictions on media freedom.
Read more: Human rights Watch, 02/07/12

Thursday, June 28

France: Searches and seizures carried out at "L'Equipe" and "Le Point" newspapers were disproportionate to the interest of democratic society in ensuring and maintaining a free press

In today's (28/06/12) Chamber judgment in the case of Ressiot and Others v. France (application no. 15054/07), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned investigations carried out at the premises of L'Equipe and Le Point newspapers and at the homes of journalists accused of breaching the confidentiality of a judicial investigation. The authorities wanted to identify the source of the leaks in an investigation into possible doping in cycle racing. Searches were carried out at the newspaper offices and the journalists' homes: equipment was seized and lists of telephone calls were placed under seal. The five journalists were released for lack of evidence.

The Court found that the Government had not shown that a fair balance had been struck between the various interests involved. It reiterated that "the considerations to be taken into account by the Convention institutions for their review under paragraph 2 of Article 10 tip the balance of competing interests in favour of the interest of democratic society in securing a free press" (see Goodwin v. the United Kingdom). The measures taken were not reasonably proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, having regard to the interest of a democratic society in ensuring and maintaining the freedom of the press.

Wednesday, June 27

Stop UK Enabling Shell's Human Rights Violations in Nigeria
Shell has a murky history in Nigeria, where it has a practical monopoly on the country’s oil. The multinational's environmental infractions in Nigeria are well documented, with spill after spill ruining ecosystems and people's lives. There have been over 2,000 oil spills in the Niger delta, many extremely serious. Clean up and compensation has been scanty, when it exists at all.

In a US court case, the corporation is also accused of "aiding and abetting" gross human rights violations. The UK Government has decided to intervene in the case on Shell's behalf, based on a very narrow (but convenient) interpretation of international law.

This interpretation of international law is a deeply suspect act on the part of the UK Government. Tell the UK Government that it should not be trying to help multinationals get away with human rights violations and to withdraw its support immediately.
You can sign the petition here . . . .

Asbestos– An Ever Present Danger

Mesothelioma Day 2012 Calls For Global Ban On Asbestos

Each year more than 4,500 people die from asbestos-related diseases, a figure expected to rise to more than 10,000 deaths annually by 2020

Action Mesothelioma Day 2012, which is to be held on Friday 6th July, will this year focus its attention on calling for a Global Ban on Asbestos and has adopted the Forget-Me-Not as a poignant symbol.

Around the country, many local groups, national organisations and charity trusts will stage events, from Tayside in Scotland to Southsea in Hampshire, as well as in former asbestos industry ‘blackspots’ of the North East of England and the Midlands.

Events for Action Mesothelioma Day 2012 are currently scheduled to be held at Tayside, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and Southsea.


Monday, June 25

Shock at the BBC as reporters are told to start making money

There are fears for the future editorial independence of the BBC after news journalists were ordered to come up with money-generating ideas for the corporation, a leaked email reveals.

BBC bosses have told reporters to think of money-making schemes and present them to their line managers at forthcoming job appraisals – raising concerns that the organisation's prized editorial standards will be compromised by commercial imperatives.

Read more: Ian Burrell, Independent, Monday 25 June 2012

Thursday, June 14

Birmingham and Coventry branch NUJ - June Branch Meeting

Thursday 21st June 2012
Belgrade Theatre
Belgrade Square
Corporation Street

Assemble 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm Start

Guest speaker Barry Fitzpatrick NUJ Deputy General Secretary

1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of May meeting /  uncorrected minutes attached

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes

6) State of the NUJ - Barry Fitzpatrick

7)   Any other business

Saturday, June 9

Free Health Reporter Training at Coventry University, EU funded project

For your information - there are still places for Health Reporter training in Coventry - please read below for more details.


British health journalists are being offered up to 4 days of FREE training this summer, in an EU funded project to improve the quality of health reporting. Two days will be delivered in London (June 11-12), and two in Coventry (June 14-15). Editors and employers are also invited to arrange customised sessions for staff in their workplaces. The training has the support of the NUJ and the Medical Journalists Association.
The HeaRT (Health Reporter Training) program has taken sample polls of journalists in all seven partner countries (Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Romania, Spain, and the UK) to determine their background training, and what additional support they may find useful. Most journalists in the polling said they preferred face to face training.
A package of training sessions has been designed, and online resources will also be available over the summer for those staff and freelance journalists who cannot attend the courses in person, or who want to follow up on some of the issues as a result of attending a course. The British sessions will cover eight of the topics:
  • The Business & Economics of Health Care
  • Medical Research and Science
  • Health Care Quality and performance
  • Health Policy: government health reforms
  • Understanding hospital and other financial reports
  • Health inequalities
  • Global Health
  • How to evaluate conflicts of interest
CLICK HERE for more details of the British training sessions.Dr John Lister can be contacted by e-mail or on 07774 264112.
NOTE: The courses are free of charge, but spaces are limited, and the project is required to deliver a certain number of training opportunities. So to reserve a place, journalists should send a refundable deposit cheque for £50, dated June 11 2012, and made out to Coventry University to:

Dr John Lister, Media Department, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB.
All cheques will be returned on arrival at the commencement of the training. Places can only be confirmed when the cheque is received, and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

Thursday, June 7

New report reveals 76 trade unionists were murdered last year
The situation faced by trade unionists across the world grew steadily worse in 2011, according to the annual survey of trade union rights violations published today by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

This year’s survey, which examines 143 countries, found that 76 trade unionists murdered in 2011, with thousands more dismissed and arrested. The Americas is still the most deadly region for trade unionists, while Arab Spring workers paid dearly as they marched towards democracy.
Read more: by Tim Lezard - Union News, 6th June 2012

Wednesday, June 6

“Violence against journalists remains a special category of crime, as it is a direct attack on society and democracy itself”

Continued attacks in Europe: journalists need protection from violence

Journalism is a dangerous profession, including in Europe. Since the beginning of this year, journalists have suffered physical attacks in Azerbaijan on a number of occasions, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Russia. Governments should treat violence against journalists with the utmost seriousness, as such attacks aim at the core of our democracies.

Often, the perpetrators of the attacks are unknown assailants, usually several masked men, but sometimes they have been riot police or state sponsored security guards.

Read more: Nils Muiznieks European Commissioner for Human Rights, 05/06/12

Tuesday, May 15

Journalists and NUJ membership still waiting on High Court judgement

A demonstration was held outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 25 April by members of the NUJ and PCS unions. Inside, a judicial review was being sought of a court decision which required journalists, media organisations and broadcasters to hand over footage taken by journalists during the ‘disturbances’ at Dale Farm to the police. Despite this militant, assertive and inspired leadership from the NUJ the courts keep NUJ members (and the rest of civil society) waiting!
Click this link to read the NUJ news report.

Confusion reigned in the minds of some members of the NUJ who turned up outside the High Court and considered their three or four-minute participation in a photo-op feeding frenzy of toothless piranhas as synonymous with union solidarity! They were surprised when, on trying to induce those members taking part in the event into a favorable pictorial arrangement to further enhance the ‘newsworthy’ commercial viability of their shoot, they were treated with contempt and derision.

Years of covering union events as observers and never as players has dulled their minds to the fact their own union protest requires something more of a contribution from their person besides the usual cynical exploitation! 
Text/Photo Stalingrad O'Neill - Read the full post here . . . .


Monday, May 7

Birmingham and Coventry NUJ - May Branch Meeting

Tuesday 15th May 2012
Red Peppers Restaurant & Bar
117 Wharfside Street
The Mailbox
Birmingham B1 1RF
Meet 18:00 for 18:30 start

1) Introduction by chair/those attending         2) Minutes of May meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports                       4) Branch reports

5) Up date on disputes                                    6) Motions to DM:

7)  Delegates to DM                                        8) Any other business

Thursday, April 19

Decline and fall of the local press
In Victorian times, any sizeable British town was home to several competing local newspapers, some of which, like The Manchester Guardian, Newcastle Chronicle, or Leeds Mercury were major forces for progress.

 . . . . there was no doubt that the British public loved their local papers. Their combined circulation was enormous. Their news content was written by professional journalists working, and usually living, in the communities they covered. Less combative and less racy than the national newspapers, they were judged on the whole to be fairer and more reliable.
Read more: Independent, 24/04/12

EDM 2978: Local And Regional Newspapers (No. 2)
That this House notes with sadness the decision by Johnston Press to move many long-established local newspapers from a daily publication to a weekly publication; condemns this unnecessary move and the implications it will have for the jobs of many journalists, printers, newspaper sellers and newspaper deliveries; praises the role local daily newspapers like the Halifax Courier and other titles in towns like Kettering, Northampton, Peterborough and Scarborough play in local democracy and in reporting the news on a daily basis; further notes the knock-on effect this will have on the local economies of the towns affected; urges Johnston Press to protect existing jobs at the newspaper titles affected and ensure that there are no compulsory job losses; further urges them to consult fully with the National Union of Journalists about their proposals; and hopes that local newspapers will continue to play an important role in the life of local communities for many years to come.

Primary sponsor: Riordan, Linda, date tabled: 18/04/2012
Clark, Katy
Hancock, Mike
McDonnell, John
Russell, Bob
Turner, Karl

Tuesday, April 10

Calling Notice: B'ham & Coventry NUJ April Meeting

Tuesday 17th April
Old Windmill pub
Spon Street
Meet 6:00 pm for 6:30 start
Light refreshments will be served

Main Item on the agenda will be NUJ Delegate Meeting (DM) - Newcastle 5th to 7th October 2012

This branch meeting will be asking for branch members willing to be delegated to attend DM. All expenses for delegates are paid by the union, anyone from branch wanting to go as an observer, expenses will be paid by branch. Attendees from branch would be asked to travel up to Newcastle on Thursday 4th October as there would be insufficient time on Friday to travel and arrive in time for opening.

Branch would encourage student members to attend.

Drafts of any motions to conference need to be presented at this meeting, motions should be concise and kept to one subject per motion.

May meeting will finalize motions and confirm delegates

DM 2012 is a rule-changing conference and motions to change/amend should include their potential financial implications or the NEC will estimate the cost.

Composite A carried at the 2002 NUJ conference urged branches and bodies to table no more than 4 motions.

Monday, March 26

Solidarity with Port Workers in New Zealand

The International Transport Workers' Federation is calling for global solidarity with port workers in New Zealand.

All we're asking you to do is take 30 seconds and send off your message to the Mayor of Auckland.

We're convinced that if he gets enough messages, he'll intervene, replace members of the port's board who have pushed for the lock-out of workers, and move to resolve the dispute.

Click here to send your message of Support

Every message we can send increases the chances that this will happen, and that workers will be able to go back to their jobs.

Please forward this message to your fellow union members. Let's build this campaign!

From: LabourStart

Sunday, March 25

Sri Lanka Targets Journalists in Smear Campaign

Freedom House condemns the Sri Lankan government's smear campaign, which accused journalists and human rights advocates of being "traitors" for supporting a recent UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation into the country's past human rights abuses. The campaign, broadcast over state television, accuses journalists of aiding the Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lankan minister Mervyn Silva publicly named individuals and threatened to break their limbs.

Intimidation has been ongoing since January 2012, but escalated after the adoption of the UNHRC resolution on March 22, which called for a credible investigation into atrocities committed during and after Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war. The deliberation and passage sparked anti-US and anti-resolution protests, and led to threats against well-known journalists and human rights defenders both within Sri Lanka and abroad, including Poddala Jayantha, Sunanda Deshapriya, Nimalka Fernando and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. The Free Media Movement, a local organization, said that some of the individuals identified in prior state broadcasts have been violently attacked.

Sri Lanka is rated Not Free in Freedom House's Freedom of the Press 2011 report. Despite nominal constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, journalists have been harassed and accused of treason under antiquated laws that are frequently employed to shield the government from criticism.

For more information go here . . . .

Wednesday, March 14

Calling Notice Birmingham and Coventry March Branch Meeting

Tuesday 27th March 2012
Red Peppers Restaurant & Bar
117 Wharfside Street
The Mailbox
Birmingham B1 1RF
Meet 18:00 for 18:30 start

Light refreshments will be served

Agenda: New Brooms - Willing to Sweep Clean

Following on from branch AGM this meeting will attempt to progress the ideas raised and discussed for the future of the branch; what can we achieve and how to progress our activities and campaigns.

Communication with members, how we keep in touch with the MoCs / FoCs who do not come to the branch. Must be lonely out there...........

Recruitment: AGM elected a small volunteer group to concentrate on bringing new members to the branch; we need to have a plan so we know what we may be able to accomplish!

Do we really need our over formal meetings, should we minimize the rituals and concentrate on what we can do/should/could be doing?

Does meeting in pubs keep members away, would the branch be more user friendly if we met in an alcohol free environment?

Should we have a branch campaign diary to focus our work for the year, given that these things are always fluid?

Your views on above do not require you to attend the branch meeting, any thoughts/comments/what would make branch meetings more attractive for you, Email.

Thursday, March 8

Greetings for International Women's Day

"I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood."
Emma Goldman / June 27 1869 - May 14 1940

International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

Monday, March 5

Women in Retirement one-day conference

NUJ nationally is supporting this conference

[ Poor, lonely and cold: life in Britain for the over-60s: The future for many of the country's older people is bleak, according to the Age UK report Agenda for Later Life, to be published this week. Sixteen per cent, or 1.8 million, of people over state pension age are living in poverty; 3.3 million are unable to *warm their homes (an increase of more than half a million in the past two years); and 800,000 are not receiving the care they need. Read more here . .]

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) Women’s Working Party is staging a “Women in Retirement” conference aimed at working age women as well as older women; to look at issues of pensions, the ageing society and social care.

Saturday 24 March 2012
11:00 am - 3:30pm
Unison Centre
24 Livery Street,

Tickets £5: To book please Email NPC office / Email:

Please note if you wish to attend NUJ branch will pay cost of admission and reasonable travel costs to confirm contact:

*Winter Fuel Payment – winter 2011/2012 and winter 2012/2013
If you have never received a Winter Fuel Payment before and born on or before:

5th January 1951 you can still claim for winter 2011/2012 but you must download form and return to Department of Works and Pensions before 30/03/2012
Download 'Winter Fuel Payment claim form' (PDF, 215K)

For winter 2012/2013 you will qualify if born on or before July 1951
Full information here . . . .

End the Care Crisis - Lobby of Parliament
Tuesday 6th march 2012
We are entering a key time for our social care system. Our social care system is broken. It cannot cope with a rapidly ageing population and positive impact of people living longer with illness and disability.

Those who use our social care system can no longer tolerate a social care system which leaves many with no support and others with poor quality services. The public are angry that they can face huge care charges and end up losing all their savings or being forced to sell their home.

We know that the Government is due to announce their plans to reform social care in April 2012. It is really important that we make sure MPs and ministers act now to reform our social care system ensuring a fair and sustainable care system which delivers dignity, independence and peace of mind for older and disabled people and their families. Failure to act will lead to more of the cuts, neglect and abuse in social care, at great cost to our economy, public services and society.

Thursday, March 1

Rights of disabled people may be at risk, says Human Rights Committee

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its Report on the implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which was ratified by the UK in 2009. The Report draws attention to a number of significant human rights issues especially that which relates to independent living.

The right to independent living does not exist as a freestanding right in UK law. Although it is protected and promoted to some extent by a matrix of rights, the Committee believes that this is not enough. It argues that the Government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a freestanding right. In addition, the Committee concludes that the UNCRPD is hard law, not soft law, and that the Government should fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis, and counter any public perception that it is soft law.

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"We are concerned to learn that the right of disabled people to independent living may be at risk through the cumulative impact of current reforms. Even though the UK ratified the UNCPRD in 2009 with cross-party support, the Government is unable to demonstrate that sufficient regard has been paid to the Convention in the development of policy with direct relevance to the lives of disabled people. The right to independent living in UK law may need to be strengthened further, and we call on the Government and other interested organisations to consider the need for a freestanding right to independent living in UK law."
Read the report at The Joint Committee of Human Rights

 Note: Independent living refers to disabled people having the same level of choice, control and freedom in their daily lives as any other person.

Wednesday, February 29

Branch Officers for 2012

The new branch officers list is now on the blog - look for the new information in the left hand column.
The list includes our new recruitment working party which will be swinging into gear very shortly!

Tuesday, February 28

Annual Meeting hears from new Deputy General Secretary Barry Fitzpatrick

Barry Fitzpatrick, centre, flanked by branch members and 
Chris Morley, Northern Region Organiser,
photo by Stalingrad O'Neill
The annual meeting of the Birmingham and Coventry NUJ branch was held in The Old Windmill pub on Thursday 23rd February. Our guest speaker was our new Deputy General Secretary Barry Fitzpatrick. 
Barry spoke about the challenges facing the union in  the future including the need to recruit and organise new members. Barry highlighted the need to recruit the growing army of freelance workers including those working in new media.
The meeting agreed to look further at recruitment and will be organising a working party to consider how best this can be done.

Monday, February 27

Zimbabwe: Excessive restraint on right to access pluralistic media & information

Article 19 is concerned about the directive by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to ban the distribution of unregistered foreign newspapers within Zimbabwe. An online report published on 3rd February 2012 by the Africa Review reports that the directive has sparked fears of a renewed crackdown on private media in the southern African country. The ZMC chairman, Godfrey Majonga,is reported to have said that foreign papers were operating outside the law and were not paying statutory fees. Newspapers are required to register as per the terms of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Refworld, Monday 27th February 2012

Friday, February 24

Half of media profession work for nothing

Reprinted from the NUJ website

Half of all media professionals work an average of 7.4 hours a week unpaid overtime, putting them fourth in a TUC league table of occupations who work beyond their contractual hours.
That is why the NUJ is encouraging journalists to take part in Work Your Proper Hours day today. The TUC day of action highlights the long hours and unpaid overtime culture faced by journalists at work. The union wants members to take a decent lunch break, leave work on time and organise NUJ events on the day.  
Work Your Proper Hours day is the day to make the most of your time by taking a proper lunch-break and leave work on time at the end of your shift.  Long hours cause stress, they are bad for your health, wreck relationships and make caring for children or dependents more difficult.  Tired, burnt-out staff are bad for business. . More than five million people regularly do unpaid overtime, giving employers £29.2 billion free work last year.
The NUJ has carried out an analysis of what is happening in the newsrooms of two of the largest newspaper groups, Trinity Mirror and Newsquest. The results show that after years of cuts, journalists and photographers are struggling to do their jobs because of limited investment in quality journalism and dwindling numbers of staff in newsrooms. 
The analysis shows that as staff cover for redundant posts, some of the industry’s poorest paid are working exceedingly long hours. This is detrimental to their health and also to the quality of journalism and service they can provide for their readers. Too many newspapers and website services are being run on goodwill, with journalists working very long hours. This is unacceptable.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary said: “A record 5.26 million people worked unpaid overtime last year, the highest since records began in 1992. This will not be news to journalists – the problem is rife in our industry. Cuts to editorial posts and recruitment freezes mean that many are working longer and longer hours.  We are all prepared to go the extra mile when required, but members are routinely covering for their former colleagues and working excessive hours.  Friday 24 February is Work Your Proper Hours day.  Make sure that you and your colleagues have a proper break and go home when your shift is supposed to end; employers cannot rely on your goodwill forever. Make home-time your deadline.”

Work Your Proper Hours Day for 2012 is held on Friday 24 February, but your own pay day may come earlier or later, depending on the hours you work above your contracted hours.
Use the TUC’s  online unpaid overtime calculator to find out when you can celebrate paying off your long hours debt.
Take part in the TUC quiz here
Find out more about the campaign here 
EDM 2770: Cleaners Employed On Eurostar
That this House supports members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union in their industrial dispute with Rentokil Initial; applauds cleaners at the Eurostar terminals at St. Pancras International, who help maintain the UK's status as a major tourist destination, particularly during this Olympic year; notes that staff employed by Rentokil Initial to do this important job, who have not had a pay rise for four years, currently earn 6.76 per hour and have rejected a miserly 13 pence per hour pay rise; regards such poverty wages for cleaning staff maintaining the plush Eurostar terminal as a national scandal; believes that cleaners across the capital should be paid the London living wage of 8.30 per hour; further notes that cleaners working for other contractors on the Eurostar terminal earn around 8 per hour; is alarmed by testimony that Rentokil Initial has contracted a recruitment company that is recruiting workers to break the union's strike action; and calls on the Government to intervene in this dispute to persuade the employer to attend Advisory, Concilliation and Arbitration Service talks to resolve this pay dispute and to stop exploiting vulnerable workers.
Primary sponsor: Frank Dobson, date tabled: 23/02/2012

Wednesday, February 22

Make Your MP Work for You - That is Their Job

Your MP is elected to parliament to represent all those who live in their constituency irregardless of their immigration status or age and you do not have to be on the electoral register.

Early Day Motions EDMs are ways of raising issues in Parliament, that do not get mentioned in the normal days business in the House of Commons.

Some of your MPs will try to put you off, don't take 'No' for an answer, some may say, as I am a cabinet member, (Prime Minister, Home Secretary etc.) it is against Parliamentary Convention for a minister to sign/table EDMs. Tell them that is palpable nonsense, irregardless of your cabinet position, you are first and foremost a constituency MP, in parliament to represent your constituents.

You can find/contact your MP for free, through: 'WriteToThem.Com'

Ask your MP to sign the EDM below!

EDM 2730: Big Six Energy Companies
That this House supports the End the Big Six Energy Fix campaign aimed at ending energy profiteering by British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy; notes that in the first six months of 2011 alone the Big Six energy companies posted profits of around 3.5 billion and that in October 2011 Ofgem revealed profit margins for the energy suppliers increased by 733 per cent. in some circumstances; further notes that average household bills have doubled in the past six years from around 600 a year in 2004 to more than 1,200 a year today; is appalled that the UK now has more than 5.5 million households hit by fuel poverty leading to an estimated 3,000 premature winter deaths; therefore calls on the Government to tackle the predatory behaviour of thebig energy companies by introducing a new windfall levy on their profits with revenues used to ensure that every home is insulated and highly energy efficient; urges Ofgem to seriously consider re-introducing a cap on prices to prevent energy companies from passing the cost of any levy on to customers; and further calls on the Government to launch an urgent public inquiry into the Big Six energy companies.
Primary sponsor: Caroline Lucas, date tabled: 20/02/2012

Monday, February 13

Reminder: B'ham & Coventry NUJ Annual General Meeting

Thursday 23rd February 2012
Meet 6:00 pm for 6:30 start
Old Windmill pub
Spon Street
Light refreshments will be served

Guest speaker: NUJ Deputy General Secretary Barry Fitzpatrick


1) Introduction by chair/those attending

2) Minutes of January meeting

3) Secretary/Treasurers reports

4) Branch reports

5) Up date on any disputes/ redundancies in the area

6) Crisis in Midlands Journalism/Discussion on the way forward

7) Election of officers for 2012/2013

8) Any other business


Congratulation to branch members, Caroline, Eleanor, Dhiren & Tom

Caroline Beavon (Midlands seat) and Eleanor Lisney (Disabled Members‚ seat) both elected unopposed to NUJ New Media Industrial Council.

Dhiren Katwa, senior editor of 'Asian Voice' has been named in the President of India's Honours list for his services to the community through journalism. Dhiren travelled to a prestigious ceremony in New Dhelhi, India last month, where he was awarded the 'Bharat Samman Award', which recognises the work of individuals of Indian descent overseas for exemplary work in their respective fields.

Tom 'Stalingrad' O'Neil has been elected, unopposed, as the NUJ Midlands National Executive Council member for our region. Tom, better known to many as Stali, has been secretary and treasurer of the union's Birmingham and Coventry branch for years.

Tuesday, February 7

Our Pensions are Sacrosanct - challenge the shift from RPI to CPI

Demonstrate Monday 20th February
8:30am - 10:00am
High Court
The Strand
London WC1

Called by Unite, supported by GMB, CWU, NUJ, UNISON, PCS, pensioner groups

On 20 February 2012 Unite, along with a number of other unions will be appealing the High Court decision to reject our case for a judicial review on the issue of pensions. Our case challenged the government’s change to the way pensions are increased to take account of inflation; from using the Retail Price Index (RPI) to one using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The unions are questioning the government’s decision to up-rate future pension increases by CPI.

To raise awareness of the appeal the unions are organising a demonstration outside the High Court at 8.30am – 10am on Monday, 20th February. We need your support to show that Unite is opposed to this change.

The changes are being felt in the public sector, but are also taking hold across the private sector. From BA, RSA, Cummins and the Pensions Trust- to a range of others. Therefore, it is important that Unite members, from across a range of sectors, come out and show their opposition to this change.

If you can attend for a short period please contact:

Sunday, February 5

Media: Increase of reader content bodes ill for professional journalism

Photomart pulls advertising from Archant
Archant’s decision to let go its staff photographers in favour of receiving contributions from the public has sparked controversy and debate from the trade. In an email notice to one of Archant’s representatives, Photomart has criticized the move and asked for clarification on the matter.

Archant is the UK's largest independently-owned regional media business. It is a community media company active in the fields of regional newspaper and magazine publishing, contract printing and internet communications. All its titles serve clearly defined communities, based around locations or interest groups.

Thursday, February 2

Calling Notice: B'ham & Coventry NUJ Annual General Meeting

This years Annual General Meeting will be held on:

Thursday 23rd February 2012
Meet 6:00 pm for 6:30 start
Old Windmill pub
Spon Street
Light refreshments will be served

Guest speaker:   Deputy General Secretary Barry Fitzpatrick on the Challenges facing the NUJ. Barry particularly wants to address issues surrounding how to campaign more effectively on employment rights and the direct link that has with trade union rights. He's also concerned about the general malaise which has overtaken many younger journalists who cannot see their way forward in the industry.

There will be an election of officers to serve the branch for the coming year, absolutely no experience necessary as full support will be given to first timers. You may nominate yourself for any of the posts ( they will automatically be seconded) but you will have to attend the AGM to be elected. If you want to nominate yourself or someone else reply to this Email.
Nominations are invited for the post of: Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Minute secretary, Recruitment, Equalities, Disabilities, Welfare, and communication officers and any other positions the branch deem necessary. Job/post descriptions at end of message. Two of the posts Secretary and Communications officer attract modest honorariums of £600 per post.
The outgoing branch officers, encourage members to think about how they can contribute to the branch over the next twelve months.
'Crisis in Midlands Journalism' see attached uncorrected minutes of January branch meeting, in particular item 12.
Further information available on the page tab at top of this blog, under the branch banner!