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24 November 2006

Free union membership (strings apply!)

One benefit of union membership you mightn't know about is cheap conveyancing when you move house. I was very pleasantly surprised that union solicitors Thompsons will cut a deal for members of the NUJ (and a number of other unions), and it might save you quite a bit.

Their £275 for looking after my move was exactly half the quote I got from two of our local solicitors, so I saved over a year's worth of union subs. In effect, I got my NUJ money back and more, hurrah!

Thompsons are at www.thompsons.law.co.uk if you'd like to check them out. Their national conveyancing office is in Plymouth, so I might think twice about using them if it was going to be a *really* complicated sale, as a lot of to and fro by post might delay things, but we just bought a flat as first-time-buyers, so very little to go wrong. They were very nice and helpful (all by phone/post/email), and everything got done on time (thanks guys!).

22 November 2006

Ballot vote at AOL as job fears grow

NUJ members at AOL (UK) have decided unanimously to ballot for industrial action over compulsory redundancies and lack of consultation.

The chapel was told in September of the company's intention to cut jobs in the run-up to the sale of the Internet Service Provider to Carphone Warehouse.

Members in the Online Customer Experience department will still be employed by AOL (UK), owned by Time Warner, but although they have been told that their department will be affected, they have not been told how.

The chapel, who have had recognition since 2005, are keen to work with management to minimise the effects of any redundancies. However, they feel that their request for voluntary redundancies hasn't been taken seriously.

Members are frustrated that a 90-day consultation period (due to end on 18 December) so far has not been meaningful. The only thing they have been told is that the company will not accept any voluntary redundancies, and this has caused widespread anger and deep concern.

At a well attended chapel meeting yesterday (21/11) they felt they had no option but to ballot for industrial action.

Assistant Organiser for New Media Jenny Lennox said: “Some NUJ members at AOL are very worried about their futures and they are receiving no reassurance from management.

“Things need not have got to this point had there been better communication but staff are feeling confused and anxious and felt they had to act to defend themselves.”

Notice of the intention to ballot was sent to management today. The ballot will commence on Wednesday 29 November, and the result will be known on Wednesday 13 December.


From http://www.nuj.org.uk

13 November 2006

Report into web accessibility

Michael Morgan wanted to draw our attention to this piece form ZDNet recently. Well worth a read:

Web 2.0: A step backwards for accessibility?

When the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) undertook a survey of over 1,000 UK websites in 2004, it found that eight out of 10 across all industry sectors failed to comply with even basic accessibility standards.

In other words, a mere 19 percent managed to conform with the most elementary level of the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by achieving a single A performance rating.

But another study undertaken last year for the Cabinet Office by AbilityNet, a charity that provides a range of services to help disabled people exploit computers and the internet more effectively, revealed that the situation had improved little. Of the 1,300 public sector websites across Europe that it examined, only a miniscule 3 percent gained that elusive single A rating, although 17 percent were very close.

Read more >>>

07 November 2006

24: "My name's Jerry Yang, and this is the worst day of my life."

Starting from now (well, 18 minutes ago), Reporters Sans Frontieres are launching a 24 hour campaign against censorship on the internet. Visit their mayfly of a campaign site between now and 11am tomorrow to pitch in with it yourself.

You can vote on the internet's worst censorship black hole, record your own voice message to send to Jerry Yang of Yahoo!, protesting at the web behemoth's record on colluding with censorship in China, or even contribute to RSF's group blog for the day. What are you waiting for?