At the recent NUJ Delegates Meeting, Oxford and District Branch secretary Anna Wagstaff was made a Member of Honour. Anna was nominated by the branch in recognition of her untiring grassroots, branch level activism.
Coming from the Pergamon Chapel, which pursued two long disputes (four years in total) with Robert Maxwell and Elsevier, Anna has been branch secretary of the Oxford and District branch for well over 20 years and in that time has played the leading role in the branch.
The citation stated: “Oxford and District branch is a well known and respected branch of the NUJ. This is very largely down to the work Anna has done and continues to do.”
Former vice chair David Campbell added: “My impressions were of energy, tenacity and resilience, always looking for another way when the obvious road was blocked. Anna would turn her hand to anything, working long hours to achieve our goals. She would know who could help to fix a problem and find the right way to approach them. She also enjoyed a good party, in the best traditions of the NUJ!”
Anna said afterwards: “Huge thanks for everyone who nominated me for membership of honour and helped construct that citation which gave me sole credit for all the great things we’ve achieved together.”
The examples below highlight some of Anna’s achievements (thanks to branch chair Bill MacKeith for the archive images).
- Calling, organising and minuting the monthly meetings of branch members, and producing monthly (until recently, printed) Branch bulletins which carried stories related to the current concerns of the branch and chapels.
- Being in constant contact with the Mothers/Fathers of chapel and NUJ reps at BBC Oxford, Oxford Mail and Times, Macmillan, Pearson, Taylor and Francis and other workplaces, sustaining and encouraging the chapels in recruitment, negotiation stances, training, through direct contacts, leafleting of workplaces, special meetings, socials, and picket line support.
- Developing and sustaining working relationships with other organisations including Unite the Union and the Society of Young Publishers in book publishing through joint recruiting, leaflets, meetings and conferences.
- Playing the leading role in developing branch policies on standing up for quality journalism, quality in academic publishing, open access publishing and standing up for local news coverage.
- Taking those policies to the local community through public meetings and conferences, and to the NUJ nationally through motions to Delegate Meetings, where the union has adopted the stance suggested by Oxford branch on a number of occasions.
- Organising speaker and other events around national and international issues including press freedom, defence of whistleblowers and solidarity with Palestinian journalists.
- Creating guest speaker events to increase attendance at branch meetings and address a range of current issues, from information security to new ways of making a living as a freelance.
- Taking the lead in using digital media to promote the branch (blog, Twitter) and highlighting good practice at DM to encourage other branches.