This year the union holds its election for a general secretary and after having served two five year terms, Jeremy Dear announced to the FebruaryNEC meeting that he would not be standing again. Jeremy was the union’s youngest ever leader when he was elected in 2001 at the age of 34. He was re-elected in 2006. Prior to becoming General Secretary he served the union as National Organiser for newspapers and as President.
After showing their appreciation for his outstanding work, the council received the draft timetable for the election of a new general secretary. A circular was sent to branches on 7 February and details are also on the NUJ web site (www.nuj.org.uk). The closing date for applications is noon on 6 April and the short-listing will be carried out by the NEC the next day. Ballot papers should go out to members on 26 April and the ballot closes on 24 May. The result will be declared on 27 May.
More and more cuts at the BBC
We were updated, by the acting broadcasting organiser, on the rapid succession of announcements about cuts and job losses, made in the past few weeks by the BBC management. The management has now begun negotiations with the BBC unions over job losses in BBC Monitoring, BBC Online and BBC World Service all of whom face reductions of some 25 per cent. A vigorous campaign has sprung up against the World Service proposals, with protests held on the steps of Bush House on the day of the announcement. Our members in Monitoring are very concerned that the job losses will fall entirely on lower grade staff and the quality of production work will suffer. Cuts to Online spell the end of non news web sites in the UK regions – a victory for commercial pressures on the BBC and there will also be cuts to web site associated with programmes like Panorama.
Although the cuts proposed for the World Service are to be investigated by the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, the cut backs are savage. Sixty eight jobs will be lost at the World Service’s English language service where five foreign language services to Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, the Caribbean and Portuguese services for Africa will be axed and some short-wave broadcasts reduced. Overseas jobs will also be cut. The cuts result from a 16% reduction in the £267m grant, announced in the government’s comprehensive spending review last October.
NEC opposes attacks on freedom of expression in Hungary
Hungary has recently passed a new media law which seriously threatens free expression and journalists’ right to report. Last week, as part of the new law, the authorities announced that all bloggers must register with the state by the end of June ( see my blog ‘Fighting for freedom of expression in Hungary’ 29 January2011). In support of the strong campaign against the legislation both in Hungary and in the rest of Europe, the following motion, which I moved, was passed by the NEC: ‘This NEC notes the report and action by the EFJ on the new Hungarian media law as reported to the policy committee on 6 January 2011 (minute 0911/PC78 refers). It joins with the EFJ and others in condemning this law which includes rules requiring registration and ‘balanced’ reporting by all media outlets including bloggers, and could expose journalists and media to extensive fines if they refuse to disclose their sources.
NEC asks the general secretary/Irish secretary to write to the Hungarian ambassadors in London and Dublin, and agrees to raise the matter with the UK NUJ parliamentary group, the minister for Europe, and the All Party Parliamentary Hungary group at Westminster.
It further notes statements and actions taken to date by some members of the European parliament and the European Commission and calls for every effort to be made to secure the legislation is withdrawn in its present form, on the grounds of its incompatibility with the application of ideas concerning media freedom that have been validated in European treaties.’
I’ll give a further update on NEC matters later this week.