Why isn’t this on the news?

Just watched C4 news, an hour long programme. Nothing at all about the story below that was sent to me by a trade union colleague; nothing at all about 150 striking workers closing the Olympic stadium building site? Isn’t that news worthy!?

Just an illustration of how the media filters the news in a way that denies trade unionists and political dissidents “the oxygen of publicity”, to steal Maggie’s asphyxiating phrase.

And of course she was right. To thrive, political ideas need to be communicated between people. For citizens to be motivated to take political action, especially dissenting counter hegemonic action,  they have to have the sense that their views are at least shared by some others and that they stand a chance of convincing others. – that they are not alone.

Hence the importance of Social Networking in the Arab Spring uprisings. With no access to traditional media such as TV, radio & newspapers dissidents were isolated and unaware that others felt the way they did.

Internet based Social Networking broke the media barrier to genuine political dialogue and suddenly tens of thousands of people were able to communicate their solidarity with each other and thus dissenting political action became credible, if not inevitable.

And so it is that in the West the mainstream TV and radio news (mainly large institutions of corporate capitalism) rarely carry stories of industrial disputes or dissenting political action. They are happy to report the Arab Spring or dissent in Pakistan or wherever but not in the UK or other similar countries. Mainstream media in the UK has made no mention of the strikes and occupations in Wisconsin or the protest camps in Madrid and only refers to the events in Greece by characterising the mass popular dissent at the policy of cuts, as the actions of an ill-informed mob who are refusing to face ‘economic realities’.

Even locally, on a day to day basis significant instances of industrial action and political protest are entirely ignored by the mainstream UK media. If you only hear the news from TV and radio you would imagine that there was no such thing as trade unions and that the UK population was passively accepting the ConDem policy of ideological cuts without dissent. This is simply not true but the mainstream media is simply not going to convey the level of national and international resistance to the Washington Consensus politics of ‘free markets’ and public service cuts. Why not? Because it is not in the interests of their owners to do so.

This is Chomsky territory of course and the great man himself will be in London next week to talk at the Rebellious Media Conference. There’s no tickets left I’m afraid but I’ll be there. Can’t wait.

Mass dismissals provoke construction walk-outs and Civil Disobedience

In a virtual declaration of war, Balfour Beaty Engineering Services has today issued 90 day Notices of termination to 890 of their workforce.

This week at the TUC Ed Milliband made a speech condemning strikes whilst Paul Kenny of the GMB called for “Civil Disobedience

This morning Civil disobedience took centre stage. Co-ordinated unofficial industrial action kicked off at major construction projects across the country. Electricians and Pipe-fitters working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services at Grangemouth in Scotland walked off the job. In London, police were forced to intervene after 150 electricians blocked the main entrance to the Olympics site causing rush hour travel chaos with vehicles backing up around the A12 Bow Flyover. Further action also took place at Balfour Beatty’s Papermill site in Manchester.

 Yesterday the major electrical employers sent new contracts (with a 35% pay cut) to their staff with an ultimatum that anyone who did not sign them by 7th December would be sacked. 

The dispute has been sparked after eight major electrical contractors announced their intention to withdraw from the Joint Industry Board (JIB) national industry agreement. They are Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, MJN Colston, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall.

The employers propose 3 new grades for electicians: metalworker £10.50 per hour, Wiring £12, Terminating £14. The current electricains JIB rate is £16.25p per hour across the board. For the worst hit this amounts to a 35% pay cut.

 Meanwhile, the chief executive of Balfour Beatty, one of the contractors, had given himself an 8% pay rise last year.

 Alan Keys (one of the leaders of the action) said:

“It’s not the Polish or Portuguese workers who are cutting our wages, but the industry bosses.

They are attempting to drive down our wages to drive up their profits.

They can threaten to sack us and blacklist our stewards but if they think we are going to just sit back and accept this, they are very much mistaken.”

 The last time the electrical contractors attempted to cut wages by de-skilling the electrical trade in 1999 it provoked a series of coordinated strikes on the Jubilee Line, Royal Opera House, Pfizers and power generation projects across the UK.

About I Am Not A Number

I Am Not A Number is written by Chris Jury. For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio http://www.agitpopradio.org.uk He is currently the Communications Officer for UCU at Bath Spa University and a UCU SW Regional Rep at SWTUC.
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4 Responses to Why isn’t this on the news?

  1. I realize that to say this might be considered sacrilege, but Chomsky should have opened a deli. For example, he could advertise “Chomp down on a Chomsky sub – they’re soooo good – you’ll love ’em. Stock-up on Chomsky subs and enjoy them while you watch the big game on the tele! Remember – chomp, chomp, Chomsky!”

  2. To continue with the concept of Noam Chomsky opening a deli I have some additional ideas for the marketing department. See what you think of these advertisements:

    “When you find yourself yearning for a liverwurst and limburger on pumpernickel with a pickle wedge and chips on the side – then get off your HIDE and catch a RIDE over to Chomsky’s Deli. Yes ladies and gentlemen for the best deli sandwiches in the world your only choice is chomp chomp Chomsky’s Deli!”

    and how about this one:

    “Don’t be a CHUMPsky when you can be a CHAMPsky don’t eat at Joe’s when you can eat at Chomsky’s. For the best deli sandwiches in the world dine at – chomp chomp Chomsky’s Deli!”

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