UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Why let the truth get in the way of investigative journalism?‏

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme is worthy of the Man Booker prize for fiction. Last night's 'what’s the point in unions' dragged up every malcontent and scab that felt aggrieved. Amongst the hilarious claims was that RMT ballots were subject to voters being intimated into voting for strike action.

Now I know Bob Crow is a bit portly but the idea that he could be in every union members house as they vote in ballots, that by law must go to home addresses, was particularly fatuous, especially as the person (rail manager?) making the claim was anonymised by a dalek voice-over and hidden behind a train wheel!

But more nonsense was saved for UNISON and a brutish ridiculous attack on our general secretary. Bobbie Dalton, who happens to be a client of Stefan Cross and associate of Cross employee (and expelled UNISON member) Stuart Hill, claimed that the union had not supported equal pay and that she would ‘like to ‘smash him in the face’ when asked what she would say to her former General Secretary.

The vacuous presenter, and of course researchers who made the programme, clearly failed to comprehend the whole issue of equal pay. The programme was put together like a Conservative Party election broadcast.

In spite of the sound legal advice to members on the acceptance or otherwise of equal pay settlements the programme portrayed UNISON complicity with the employers in undermining women’s pay. And it got better - they then provided Stefan Cross with a free advertisement for his services! No mention of Government’s failure to fund equal pay. No mention that Cross had joined Union rep's into his actions with employers and had made a fair old living on the back of the women who he ‘helped’ to claim.

No mention that those same women could have had claims pursued for free by the union on their behalf. But no Cross managed to get portrayed as Mother Theresa of Newcastle by the time he had finished his interview whilst Dave Prentis was portrayed as a KGB special agent out to make sure women didn’t get the pay they were entitled to. This would all be funny if it were not so cynical and corrosive.

We need to get Channel 4 to get their facts right and provide us with a right of reply on the equal pay issues. Short of threatening and taking forward if necessary legal action this may not be enough. This misinformation and misrepresentation is out there. All journalists and particularly those who claim to be investigative journalists have a duty to show balance and integrity.

Dispatches failed on both counts.

So let’s give Channel 4 something to do. Click on the link, fill in the form and complain and make sure you syndicate this blog and link to all your trade union colleagues so that they are forced to set the record straight: