Votes for all!
THIS YEAR'S Annual Delegate meeting created
a bizarre anomaly. It's simple to fix: the union just needs
to give full voting rights to temporary members.
It was London Freelance Branch that, many moons
ago, instigated the category of "temporary membership"
of the NUJ. People following the traditional route into a
staff job through a barely-paid stint on the Dullsville
Advertiser at least paid lower subscriptions while
LFB argued that it was unfair, and a barrier to recruitment,
people entering journalism through freelancing went straight
onto the same subscription rate as members at, say,
Vogue. Worse, they wouldn't be eligible at
all until they made two thirds of their income from
journalism - whereas they were most likely to think about
joining precisely when they decided they wanted
to give up the day job.
The NUJ does offer reduced subscriptions to members on
low incomes. Pasting verbatim from the current
You do not have to pay more than 1% of your gross taxable
income in NUJ contributions or 0.5% if your income is less
than £12,600 per year, (subject to a minimum of one third
of the Grade 1 rate [of £11.11 per month]).
Got that? (Anybody know any subs?) Obviously, it's not nearly as
easy to explain that to a freelance who's umming and ahing about
joining the union as it is to say "the first year is
Worse, it applies for freelances only after you
present annual accounts. By the time you get around to doing
those the worst should be over.
The argument for temporary membership was won against
firm resistance. Part of the compromise was that temporary
members would not have full entitlements. The same went
for student membership, another recruiting wheeze.
Now it gets weird. The union's 2003 Annual Delegate Meeting
passed a motion giving student members "the same voting
rights as full members at Chapel, Branch and ADM
Student members pay £10.00 for the duration of their
course, plus the first three months of their full membership. You
do not have to be on a journalism course to be eligible. You
could be doing a degree in Art History but qualify for student
membership of the NUJ by doing a couple of bits for the student
Only 15 per cent of student members go onto a career in
Temporary Members, however, are trying to make a living in
journalism - but get none of the above rights and pay
per year for the privilege.
Temporary membership plays an important rôle in
encouraging new journalists to join the NUJ journalists who are
struggling to make a living but do not meet the present
journalism income threshold to become full members. On a question
of equality it is therefore only fair that temporary members
should have the same voting rights as student members.
I therefore propose the motion for ADM 2004 that:
"Temporary Members have the same voting rights as Full
Members at Chapel, Branch and ADM meetings."