National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members could change the union for the better. But they won’t because the biggest complainers are either too lazy or prefer to complain than to fix what’s broken.
The NUJ structure is out of date and does not fit a modern workforce. Its structure is based on regional branches, with only those who attend monthly meetings given any say in the union. We also have too many faces reappearing on too many committees, saying the same tired old things.
That needs to be changed. We need more non-meeting based methods of engaging with members, allowing them to stand for election and to influence policy. And we need to restrict the number of meetings held and increase the diversity of members involved.
Change from the inside
There is no easy way to get to that situation. We are asking for delegates elected under the current system to vote for that system to be replaced by one where those same people would not be able to count on annual election.
They won’t do that, so we need to replace them within the existing structure to do so.
That means having to engage with the NUJ’s current structure – to effectively take over the branches that exist, reinvigorate defunct branches and start new ones.
Ooooh, oh, the Israelites
The NUJ’s stance on Israel has come up recently as the reason Jon Snow left the union. That motion would never have got on the agenda and would certainly not have passed if a more representative group of members had been at ADM.
But, famously, the BBC correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones started a blog campaigning for a change of NUJ policy. Have a look at his blog (opens new window) and you’ll see several of us tried to get Rory Cellan-Jones and others involved in a campaign to change the structure of the union then.
He – they – refused. As soon as the single issue of Israel was over, he closed the blog. It was a wasted opprortunity.
People who leave the union and moan from the sidelines are even worse, leaving us on the inside with even fewer allies.
How to change the NUJ
- If you are in a chapel turn your chapel into a branch, elect your own delegates to Annual Delegate Meeting and instruct them which way to vote on key motions
- Not in a chapel? Then get together with 10 or 12 others and take over your local branch (12 would take over most big London branches, except freelance. Fewer would be required for some regional branches).
It is probably too late to change anything about the Annual Delegate Meeting this year, but if enough branches were under the control of members who wanted change, we could call a one-day special delegate meeting to discuss the new structure we wanted to impose.
Change we need
Or we can all just flounce off in a huff, as usual and change nothing.