Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Whose Equality is it Anyway?

Tuesday 22 May .... In two rows we sat, the girls on the left and the boys on the right, like something akin to a nervous school disco, where no-one gets up to dance. A fairly inauspicious beginning for the NUJ's incoming Equality Council, one might think, but none of it was pre-planned (I promise).

Equality is at the heart of everything we do. It must remain the central plank of workplace bargaining and organisation and every trade unionist must dispel the notion that equality is a side-issue.

We've set ourselves a tough year, with a huge amount of work to get through - from protecting female journalists from lurking dangers, to ensuring part-time and freelance members are given the same employment rights as their full-time colleagues.

Perhaps the most pressing issue is that of work-life balance. More and more, we are faced with conflicting pressures which demand our time and attention. For some, flexible working is a reality - but with very weak legislation in place, it is not a right for all ... We're determined to change that wherever we can ...

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Fight is on to save the Herald Group - Sign the Petition

Colleagues, the fight is absolutley on to stop the blood-letting at the Herald Group newspapers from the obscene profiteering of Newsquest and their fat-cat American owners ... Read the text of the online petition below and sign the petition ...

We call on Gannett/Newsquest to abide by the assurances they provided to the Competition Commission hearing in 2003 on the transfer of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and stop cutting jobs in these titles.

Those assurances included their stated intention to maintain the quality and level of coverage of Scottish issues and opinions.

For the third year in a row profits have increased at Newsquest (Herald & Times) For the third year in row management have demanded job cuts across the board.

The Herald's position as a national newspaper is seriously under threat. The Sunday Herald's role as an award-winning quality Sunday title is at risk.

The ability of Evening Times journalists to sustain the high profile campaigning identity of the paper is being dramatically undermined.

The real danger to these prestigious Scottish titles comes directly from Newsquest's demand for job cuts in each of the last three years. Their profitable return on investment has been over 35% during this period. This is more than double the average company performance in the UK (14.8%).

Profits from the three titles more than doubled last year to almost £20million. Parent company Gannett has a current operating revenue of $8033 million. Now Chief Executive Tim Blott is demanding up to £3million savings from staff.

Serious health and safety issues (including stress and RSI) have been raised with management following previous redundancies and lack of investment. The future of these titles is not safe in the hands of this US owned corporate giant, despite assurances given to the DTI (Competition Commission) at the time of takeover.

This latest action smacks of asset-stripping driven by corporate greed. The Scottish public and civic society should stand up for these newspapers, which are much more important to this country than aspirations and demands of Newsquest shareholders.

We need your support to protect titles which are an essential part of Scottish cultural, political and civic life. Please write to the company expressing your concerns and sign this petition which can be found here ...

Please ask all of your family, friends and colleagues to sign up too ... Quality journalism is not safe in the hands of Newsquest/Gannett.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

New job, same old spin

Thursday, 14 May ... It seems news of my impending departure from Glasgow City Council has made the headlines ... An online poll asked whether I deserved my new salary. Of course, the 60% of those who said 'no' must have believed that I was worth more!!! Spin? I think not ...

Click here to see the 'man gets job' story ...

Maydaze Madness!

Sunday, 6 May .... Fresh, well not fresh really, but last flight back to Glasgow the previous evening (don't you just hate airports??!!) was delayed and I was home very late on a Saturday night ....

Along to George Square for our annual May Day march and rally .... Of course, yet again, we couldn't locate the NUJ Scotland banner (it's a saga we soon hope to resolve with the commission of a brand new banner, much along the lines of our Welsh colleagues) .... and the rain was threatening to spoil the day ....

However, thanks to a switch to the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket, we managed to avoid the raid and enjoyed a trade union festival of music and dance .... Highlight was dancing with Paul Holleran to Eddi Reader (I know, not a good visual at all)

.... Most of those on the left of the TU movement were left licking their wounds after being wiped out at the Scottish Parliamentary elections ....

Integrate and Agitate

Saturday, 5 May .... From Thursday to Friday evening, I had about 2 hours sleep thanks to my work at Glasgow's election counts .... Then it was straight on a plane to head to London for our conference on so-called 'digital convergence'.

It was an excellent event, with representation from across all sectors and, indeed, colleagues from Scotland and Ireland too. The debate was at times peppered with strong views on what convergence will mean to our industry .... but let's be clear, this is as revolutionary as the advent of hot metal or the computerisation of the press.

We've missed the boat in some respects, where new working conditions have been imposed without adequate industrial response .... But we've been here before .... In the 1980s the union negotiated no less that 104 new technology agreements. We've done it before and we can and will do it again.

Already, we have good models in place, but the job of our short-term commission will be to provide a framework where every chapel across the union can ensure that the introduction of new working practices is at the heart of our industrial strategy.

Oh, and can we get out of this culture of treating online journalists differently from their colleagues in print and broadcast??? Journalists are journalists are journalists .... We need to fight for everyone's terms and conditions as cohesive units .... otherwise, management will simply divide and conquer and we wouldn't want that, would we???

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Gays in the Media

Wednesday, 26 April .... Have just been interviewed by a student journalist for a radio show he's producing on how society's attitudes toward gay people have changed.

Indeed, perceptions and tolerance levels have changed - and the media has played a huge role in that. These days, it's not acceptable to 'out' someone through the tabloid press and civil partnership legislation was passed without serious condemnation from leader writers and the Op Ed brigade.

But in Scotland, the debate over the repeal of Clause 2A - the equivalent of Section 28 - created some dreadful copy in our print media. It was discriminatory in the extreme, even though, since its repeal, society hasn't disintegrated into a pit of gay iniquity.

Still, it wasn't too long ago that I was singled out by the NoTW for attending a show which looked at gay dating. It didn't matter that I was on the board of Glasgay! which was producing the performance - but shock, horror, to think that a single gay man who advises the Leader of Glasgow City Council and writes a TV soap opera, might have a gay dating advert .... well, I shudder to think of the repercussions.

Thankfully, the NoTW put me down as being 29-years-old, instead of my 31 years at the time and didn't print the oh, so saucy pics of me standing around in a pair of surf shorts (I know, such depravity).

But it did show, yet again, that someone can be targeted by the media just because of their sexuality.

So has reporting of the LGBT community really changed? Elton John's 'marriage' to long-term partner, David Furnish, made front page news - none more memorably than The Sun's "Elton Takes Furnish Up The Aisle" headline.

Now that there's legislation to protect against discrimination in the provision of goods and services - the next time there's homophobic reporting, we may well be able to take action ....

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

An Oral History .... Oooerr!

Tuesday, April 24 ... Just received a letter from Hugo Butts, a mature journalism student who came out to interview me as part of the NUJ's centenary project recording an oral history of the union.

Hugo is an excellent character and I thoroughly enjoyed the interview .... but I'm not sure if I'm cut out to accept his invitation to join a "non-denominational church made up of people of our age" .... As a very lapsed Catholic, once described as a perversion by our former Cardinal, the Bold Tam Winning, I think I'll stick to a life of debauchery.

However, thanks for the invite Hugo .... and if you do want more info click on Glasgow Church