Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay. (Wikimedia Commons/Wittylama)
Updated 25 April 2018

Al Jazeera English journalists to strike over pay

  • Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay
  • Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years

LONDON: Al Jazeera English journalists based in London have told management they will go on strike next month over pay.
Staff at the Qatar-owned broadcaster voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in March following a years-long dispute.
Journalists at the London office based in the Shard building say they have not received a pay rise in years despite increased living costs.
“The talks have been going on since 2015 and members have been losing patience. They voted almost unanimously to go for strike action,” Frances Rafferty, campaigns and communications officer at the National Union of Journalists, told Arab News.
“It’s a last resort, they’ve tried negotiating and they are just completely frustrated, nobody wants to go on strike but they are in a position where it is an option of last resort.”
Al Jazeera English is headquartered in Doha but a significant number of its journalists work out of its London office, which is responsible for European news gathering, current affairs programming and live evening news output.
The strike will take place on May 9 and will be followed by “action short of a strike” in which there will be a “withdrawl of good will,” with staff starting to take their statutory meal breaks in full and refusing to answer telephone calls, emails and messages out of normal hours.
This will begin on May 10, 2018 and continue “indefinitely,” the NUJ said — but it could be suspended “if management is prepared to come back and start meaningful talks.”
Al Jazeera members of the NUJ and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) lodged a claim in 2015 over redundancy policy, expenses and overtime. While progress was made in some areas, the management rejected requests to negotiate over pay.
An email sent to Al Jazeera staff on Dec. 29, 2017 signed by the broadcaster’s London HR team said: “Al Jazeera Media Network (which includes Al Jazeera International London) will not be offering standard pay increase or bonus to global staff in 2018 due to global budgetary constraints.”
The email said 17 staff members “whose salaries fell below the minimum market rates” had received pay rises.
Commenting at the time, the Al Jazeera NUJ branch said: “We went into pay talks three years ago expecting to negotiate over percentages. In that time Al Jazeera management has refused to improve on 0 percent — effectively handing all its staff an annual pay cut, once inflation is taken into account. The ballot result shows our members are not prepared to accept this.”
Al Jazeera did not respond to Arab News when approach for comment.


Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

Updated 23 August 2019

Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Google on Thursday said it disabled a series of YouTube channels that appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The announcement by YouTube’s parent company came after Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s protest movement and sow political discord in the city.
Google disabled 210 YouTube channels that it found behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the Hong Kong protests, according to Shane Huntley of the company’s security threat analysis group.
“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” Huntley said in an online post.
Twitter and Facebook announced this week that they suspended nearly 1,000 active accounts linked to a coordinated influence campaign. Twitter said it had shut down about 200,000 more before they could inflict any damage.
“These accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said, referring to the active accounts it shut down.
Facebook said some of the posts from accounts it banned compared the protesters in Hong Kong with Daesh group militants, branded them “cockroaches” and alleged they planned to kill people using slingshots.
China has “taken a page from Russia’s playbook” as it uses social media platforms outside the country to wage a disinformation campaign against the protests, according to the non-profit Soufan Center for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue related to global security issues.
“Beijing has deployed a relentless disinformation campaign on Twitter and Facebook powered by unknown numbers of bots, trolls, and so-called ‘sock puppets,’” the center said on its website, referring to fake online identities created for deception.
“China’s behavior will likely grow more aggressive in both the physical and virtual realms, using on-the-ground actions to complement an intensifying cyber campaign characterized by disinformation, deflection, and obfuscation.”

Misused by autocratic regimes
While social media platforms have been tools for people to advocate for rights, justice or freedom in their countries, the services are being turned on them by oppressive governments, according to the Soufan Center.
“Autocratic governments are now using these same platforms to disparage demonstrators, divide protest movements, and confuse sympathetic onlookers,” the center said.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city and one of the world’s most important financial hubs, is in the grip of an unprecedented political crisis that has seen millions of people take to the streets demanding greater freedoms.
China’s government has publicly largely left the city’s leaders and police force to try and resolve the crisis, but behind the scenes online, Beijing is seeking to sway public opinion about Hong Kong, according to Twitter and Facebook.
“We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change,” Twitter said.
It said it had pulled 936 accounts originating in China that were spreading disinformation.
Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, part of the government’s so-called “Great Firewall” of censorship.
Because of the bans, many of the fake accounts were accessed using “virtual private networks” that give a deceptive picture of the user’s location, Twitter said.
Facebook said it had acted on a tip from Twitter, removing seven pages, three groups and five Facebook accounts that had about 15,500 followers.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” Facebook said.