Friday, 9 August 2013

Open letter to the Scott Board Trust

Dear Mr Rusbridger,

The last couple of months has been a terrific time for the Guardian. The reporting of the Snowden revelations has been first class. The lack of coverage elsewhere has reinforced the position of the Guardian in the forefront of holding power to account. The paper has shown great courage. It has been a good time to be a subscriber. Until this week.

An article in the latest Private Eye (No. 1346) has shattered those feelings. Among the allegations are the following critical points:
  • “In a holier-than-thou disclaimer it declared that ‘Guardian News and Media, publisher of the Guardian, does not employ anyone on zero-hours contracts.‘ This, as one hack put it, is ‘absolute fucking bollocks.‘ The Guardian employs scores of people on zero-hours contracts. Some newer desks such as the iPad edition are run almost entirely on them. 
  • There are dozens of casual sub-editors in the newsroom and elsewhere whose terms of employment state clearly that ‘the nature of your work as a casual is intermittent and will vary from week to week. There is no obligation on GNM to provide you with work continuously or otherwise.‘ Zero hours, in other words. 
  • Furthermore, every 10 months Guardian casuals take a compulsory one month unpaid break, and then enroll again, to ensure they have no legal employment rights.” P.Eye   

Are these claims true? If so, should a bastion of liberal journalism be utilising such methods - particularly the last one - without being guilty of gross hypocrisy?

Do you believe these practices meet C.P. Scott’s values: ‘Fundamentally it implies honesty, cleanness, courage, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and the community?’ (my emphasis)

Your role, according the Scott Trust Board website is, “ to monitor the organisation, financial management and overall strategy of the Group, holding the board accountable for its performance’

As a life-long reader the latest revelations are of great concern. Add into the equation the huge salaries being paid to senior executives, when the group is losing millions every year, thereby giving the impression that fairness as a core value has been abandoned.

Is this the case? Are you prepared to use your position as editor and as a Board member of the Scott Trust to restore faith in the paper? If so, how, in what way and when? Finally what are you going to do to stop the iniquitous practice of zero-hours contracts being used by GNM?

Yours, very concerned,

Stuart Graham

Cc Scott Trust Board members

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