The review reviewed
THE London Freelance Branch Committee held an extra meeting on 4 December to discuss the General Secretary's proposals for changes to the union. The committee welcomed the process of review and the consultation document.
We particularly welcomed the support for building freelance networks. But (we're freelances, of course there's a "but") we caution there are many freelances who aren't in a position to join a network - for example because they work for many small clients.
And even when re-recognition of the union eventually leads to freelance agreements and to strong "chapels" at more publishers and broadcasters, it'll be difficult for freelances to get involved in them. So we'll still need support from lay freelance organisations like the freelance branches and Freelance Industrial Council - and from more Organisers at the union's offices; finding the money for whom is of course the point of the review.
And there, as Ros Bayley noted last issue, is the rub. The review proposes saving money on the union's representative bodies. The Branch is agreed that the NUJ must continue to be a union headed by "lay members" - activists who are working journalists - in distinction to those unions that are led by their paid officers.
A couple of Committee members felt it was absolutely essential that the union continue to have annual Delegate Meetings. Others feel that, if spending on representative bodies does have to be trimmed, it is more important to keep the National Executive and bodies like Freelance Industrial Council meeting regularly to develop and monitor policy month-to-month - and for the latter to have a budget for projects like the Freelance Fees Guide. Which might mean bi-annual Delegate Meetings, saving of the order of £100,000 a pop.
On 9 December the Branch voted to forward the Committee's comments. The full response is below.