Gutter press campaign aims to distort union demands

Original article, By Rob Sewell (vice-chair, London Central, National Union of Journalists), via Socialist Appeal (UK):

The present struggle of construction workers in defence of their national agreement on terms and conditions has been deliberately distorted by the British media and press. One not unexpected aspect of the recent wave of wildcat strikes in the construction industry has been the way that the media has reported them.

Those paragons of virtue, the American mainstream press, have been (when it’s been reported) following the ‘company’ line and pushing the anti-immigrant worker angle. While this comes as no surprise, one is still left to wonder if the press on either side of the Atlantic have any scruples. And come to think of it, many of the press members are probably unionized.

Most experienced trade unionists will already be aware of the tendency for the TV and print media to misreport strikes – ‘holding the country to ransom’ ‘small, politically motivated group of men’ ‘greedy/selfish strikers’ and so on. The aim is always to belittle industrial action and attempt to demoralise those taking it.

People who spend more for their haircuts than a worker takes home in a week shouldn’t be complaining about greedy workers! Heh, even John Edwards supported workers (at least, during his campaign). Open the presenters’ contracts for the public to see, and we’ll find out who’s greedy/selfish.

The victory of workers at Lindsey Oil Refinery, which secured an extra 102 jobs for British workers also resulted in the national agreement (the Blue Book) covering all foreign workers on the site. This ensured that workers were not undercut by foreign contract companies, eager to undermine trade union terms and conditions in order to boost their profits.

Here’s the key to the whole brewhaha. The workers at Lindsay Oil Refinery went on a strike that improved the working conditions and pay of not only the British workers, but the foreign workers as well. No wonder the corporate press is aghast! Workers united together, not based on country of origin, but of shared economic interest! Why, it smacks of the spectre which still hovers over Europe.

It will be important to remember how the press acted during these actions, should similar actions take place in the US. The press, and the Republicans, will do their best to play up anti-immigrant feelings amongst workers. It will be imparative that the workers stick to union, class and worker soldiarity to defeat any such propaganda. Worker unrest will almost certainly rise in the US. The bosses and their press lackey will try to put a stain on such unrest. It’s best to be prepared and know their actions before they take place.  

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1 comment

  1. Arise, ye workers from your slumbers!

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