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!
EDM 2669: Local radio licences
That this House notes that the BBC Trust has encouraged the BBC management to re-think its restructuring plans for local radio; congratulates Lord Patten for his courage in opposing the changes; urges Ofcom to review local commercial radio given that the Guardian Media Group has recently made redundant many high quality news staff; further notes many of the so-called local radio stations are now in fact local transmitters for national radio shows, something that the now defunct Radio Authority would not have allowed; and calls on the Government to ensure that public sector and commercial private sector broadcasters keep the making of their programmes local as promised in their licence applications.
Primary sponsor: David Morris, date tabled: 31/01/2012

EDM 2654: Anonymity on the internet
That this House is concerned at reports in the Wall Street Journal that Google may now be combining nearly all the information it has on its users, which could make it harder for them to remain anonymous; notes that Google's new policy is planned to take effect on 1 March 2012, but that this has not been widely advertised or highlighted to Google's users and customers, who now number more than 800 million people; and therefore concludes that Google should make efforts to consult on these changes and that the firm should be extremely careful in the months ahead not to risk the same kind of mass privacy violations that took place under its Street View programme, which the Australian Minister for Communications called the largest privacy breach in history across western democracies.
Primary sponsor: Robert Halfon, date tabled: 26/01/2012

Wednesday, February 1

More Determination is Needed to Make Human Rights Real

  • "Europe must move with more determination from rhetoric to enforcement of human rights standards" stated the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, when presenting the last annual report of his mandate.
Remaining problems which I feel must be addressed with determination and energy.

2.2 Freedom of the media
Media policy - in relation to freedom of expression and the protection of individual integrity - has been one of the major themes on which the Commissioner's work focused in 2011.

To raise awareness about the need for free, independent and pluralistic media, and because of the strong connection between media freedom and other human rights, a series of Media Freedom Lectures was launched during 2011. Six themes were chosen, corresponding to the broader concerns that have emerged in relation to freedom of expression in the course of the Commissioner's work: ethical journalism; access to official documents; protection of journalists from violence; public service media; social media; and media pluralism. Eight experts were invited to present their personal assessments of trends and problems concerning one of these topics. Their assessments were compiled in a publication entitled Human Rights and a Changing Media Landscape launched in London on 8 December. In his foreword, the Commissioner draws specific conclusions concerning each topic and underlines that there is a need for stronger protection of media freedom and freedom of expression in Europe today. The purpose of the book is to contribute to a more thorough public debate on media developments and their impact on human rights in a constantly changing media landscape.
Read the full report here . . . .