Thursday, 29 April 2010
Francis Beckett on Harry Conroy
Excellent obit by Francis Beckett in the Guardian today on former NUJ general secretary Harry Conroy (pictured), who died last weekend.
It has a particularly good summing up of the state of the NUJ during Conroy's leadership:
"In 1985, Harry was elected general secretary of a union weakened by years of sectarian strife, and a demoralised head office and national executive. In five years, mostly by sheer force of personality, he restored unity and a sense of purpose, making the NUJ far better respected by employers and other trade unions.
But his efforts to build unity with the print unions against Murdoch failed. Harry went to the journalists on the Murdoch titles and begged them to refuse to go to Wapping. Once Murdoch had gobbled up the printers, journalists would be next on his menu, he said.
He was a leading advocate of closer relations with print unions, with a view to a merger, but both right and left wings within the NUJ resisted, and when Harry came up for re-election, they combined to defeat him narrowly."