Our branch meeting this coming week (Thursday 13 February) will focus on Oxford’s publishing sector. Fiona Swarbrick, NUJ national organiser for magazines and books, will lead a discussion on rebuilding unions across Oxford’s book (also journal, digital and multimedia) publishers.
Oxford is a seat of education, academia and book lovers. Yet most of the publishers now based here relocated to the area in the past 20 years, derecognising the NUJ as they came, as part of a bid to drive down pay and conditions. Butterworth, Heinemann, Macmillan and Routledge moved here from London or the Home Counties, resulting in the break up of some of the best organised chapels in the union. A salary survey we did in 2006 at Harcourt (now Pearson), which incorporated Heinemann, showed that salaries had dropped from around 80% of average white collar earnings in 1990 to less than 60%. Hard won terms and conditions that seem barely believable in today’s climate were stripped away. A culture of stress, overwork and in some cases bullying emerged. We want to right that wrong.
Come to our meeting on Thursday 13th February at Oxford Town Hall, 7pm. We’ll be discussing how we can improve pay and conditions in the publishing sector. This is a branch initiative, which should involve raising our public profile in relation to book publishing, so everyone who cares about the issue can get involved. Please come and join the discussion.