NUJ NEC to freelances:

Please don't do anything...

THE LAST meeting of the NUJ's National Executive Committee (NEC) rejected moves to re-think budget cuts for the freelance sector. Freelance Industrial Council (FIC, the union body responsible for freelance matters in England and Wales) may not have enough money actually to do anything next year. The Freelance is reminded of the apocryphal Civil Service instruction to offer "all support short of actual help" and the editor commented: "Whatever the intention, the result is a risk of fragmentation. The active and increasingly successful freelance campaigns - on taxation at source, on copyright and on the right to report, for example - will carry on, through volunteer effort and with financial support from wherever we can get it."

NEC members Kevin Cooper and Jenny Vaughan, who are freelances, put up a motion to refer the proposed FIC budget of £17,000 back to the NEC's Finance Committee. They pointed out several "anomalies" in the calculations of FIC costs.

"I was horrified that only four voted for it," said Jenny: "I simply don't understand why people voted against it." These included Chris Wheal, who stood for an NEC seat on the platform of being a freelance activist. "It's not as if were asking for £30,000," she said: "we were just looking to review the budget."

"The effect of this," she explained, "is that in theory FIC can afford to meet and to do nothing else." There are elected FIC members who live in Northern Ireland, Scotland and continental Europe, so meetings don't come cheap - and "they're the best meetings I've ever been to, there's an excellent level of debate and they produce practical support for members - I actually look forward to them," Jenny went on. "In practice this makes planning impossible because how much we have available to be proactive - even just to produce an updated Freelance Fees Guide - will depend on the money we save when people miss meetings."

Sep/Oct 1999
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