NUJ Delegate Meeting backs freelances
NINE DELEGATES from London Freelance Branch travelled up to Southport on Merseyside in April for the NUJ's biennial Delegate Meeting. This saw multiple motions that could affect freelance members passed.
Arguably the most significant for freelances active in the union was the debate around loss of earnings - an expenses payment to freelances for work undertaken for the NUJ. This saw the rate restored to £50 - delegates supported the plans by a comfortable margin. The motion was proposed by the Freelance Industrial Council, whose members are elected from various geographical constituencies to represent freelances and raise relevant issues within the union, noted "the need to enable and encourage activism among self-employed workers who have no regular wage".
Loss of earnings have oscillated with the union's fortunes and the regard in which freelances are held by other memebrs. They were last reduced from £50 to £35 in 2012, due to the union's financial difficulties at the time.
Other key motions passed included a change to the structure of subscription rates for members joining the union in future. These members' rates should be based on what they are paid. Current members, however, can continue to have their rates defined by what industrial sector they are in.
Delegate Meeting passed a motion from London Freelance Branch opposing the much-delayed new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
All nine LFB delegates spoke on conference floor, four of them for the first time, covering topics such as freelance salons, the extraordinary reporting of alleged events outside the Walthamstow office of Stella Creasy MP, provision for journalism students with disabilities and the increased pressures and expectations on journalists entering the workforce.
Dave accepting the honour at Delegate Meeting
Long-time LFB Chair Dave Rotchelle was one of four long-serving activists to be made a Member of Honour, the highest award the union can confer. Presenting the award, Freelance Organiser John Toner said "Dave's devotion to the NUJ is unsurpassable and his dedication to any role or task that he undertakes has always been 100 per cent".
Rotchelle, who was the Pleasers' drummer prior to becoming a photographer, said he was honoured to be on stage in a conference hall in which the Beatles had once played, accepting the award "with love from me to you".
General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet, re-elected for second five-year term unopposed, called for the resignation of Culture Secretary John Whittingdale following allegations that "he compromised his position and integrity by allowing his privacy to be shielded by newspaper owners... in order that he deliver on press regulation and on the emasculation of the BBC".
Tim Dawson, a former FIC Chair, became the NUJ's new President, and Sian Jones is now Vice-President, while several LFB members were elected to positions within the union.
Hina Pandya was elected to the Professional Training Committee. Safiullah Tazib made it on to the Equality Council. David Wilkins won election to the Disabled Members' Council. Pennie Quinton joins the TUC Delegation and Magda Ibrahim was voted into the Women's TUC Delegation.