London Freelance Branch Annual Report 1996

1996 HAS SEEN a continuing emphasis on copyright both locally and nationally.

While as a branch we have endeavoured to make our monthly meetings interesting and accessible to all our membership -- no easy task given the diverse nature of our members-- at no time have we taken our eye off the copyright issue. It is the most fundamental problem facing the NUJ's freelance members and it is a problem which will not disappear overnight -- rather one which will continue to take up the time of all writers and photographers, NUJ members and non-members alike.

Do not sign away your rights. To do so serves to remove any future payments you may receive for the work that you have created; increases the publishers' power over you as a freelance; and undermines the position of those who have so far refused to bow down to coercion over attempted copyright theft. Don't sign!

At the beginning of the year LFB received the answers to a survey which we had conducted into our membership's need from, and attitudes to, their branch and the union nationally. From the results it seems that many people do not attend LFB meetings because they are "too political" or "deal only with left-wing issues". To our more ostrich-like members I can only say: it's not like that.

This year our meetings have had speakers covering syndication of work, whether or not to use agents, how to approach commissioning editors and how to use your time more constructively (with the aim of making more money).

We also had columnists Dai Llewelyn and Suzanne Moore talking about their working lives; and a perspective from Beulah Ainley, one of our committee members, on black and asian people working in the media.

Politics did raise its head occasionally, in the address from Tony Lennon, President of BECTU, and in our donations to the Detroit media workers and the Liverpool dockers. But, let's face, it, we are a trade union.

I am standing down as LFB Chair after two years' service, safe in the knowledge that those coming after me will find the branch in a strong position as it looks to the future.

The increase in management allowance as a result of a Rule change at this year's Annual Delegate Meeting means that the branch will potentially be able to do much for you, the members. That potential will only be fulfilled, however, if more people become involved in the work of the branch committee.

I would like to thank all committee members for their efforts this past year, especially secretary Ros Bayley and Freelance editor Mike Holderness. Believe me, when these two are supporting you the Chair's job is an easy one!

Stefano Cagnoni

Jan/Feb 1997

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