National Union of Journalists delegates at the union's conference in Newcastle-upon-Tyne have voted to increase subscription rates and move to a biennial delegate meeting.
It was agreed that during the non-BDM year there will be a one-day conference. The change was made as a cost-saving measure. NUJ presidentDonnacha DeLong said the present 18 month meeting cycle caused problems because it does not fit in with the financial year nor the terms of office of the national executive council and other union bodies.
Delegates decided that subscriptions will be increased by 5 per cent (a weekly increase of Grade 1: 15p/€0.19 ;Grade 2 19p/€0.24; Grade 3 26p/€0.33 per week) from November 1.
Photo: Mark Pinder
NEC member Helene Mulholland said the increase was equivalent to the cost of two packets of extra strong peppermints a month. Tim Dawson, NEC, pointed out: "The NUJ has 200 recognition agreements in the UK, more than any other union. To continue this level of service, the union needed to be funded properly."
The votes followed a debate on the finance section of the annual report. NUJ honorary treasurer Anita Halpin, said: "The two significant factors which have had the most impact on our financial situation are constant. The double whammy of the dire state of the industry and the funding of our staff pension scheme."
A motion from Nottingham which censured the leadership's response to the financial crisis was narrowly carried. It said: "At a time when our members are being hit by wholesale job losses in the industry, it is crucial that this union is a competent viable force which is able to provide support to its members."
A motion calling for an inquiry into the payment to Jeremy Dear, the former general secretary, of £48,239 in respect of salary was not carried. Delegates received an open letter from Jeremy Dear which said "I received NO severance pay…no payments were made in secret". He said that he received contractual payments for two sabbaticals he had not taken.
Pete Murray, who had been president at the time of Jeremy Dear's departure, apologised that he had not informed the national executive in the proper manner. He said: "The money was not a gift, nor a bung or pay off, it was part of his contractual entitlement. Not to report it to the NEC was a mistake, an oversight. I messed up badly for not doing that and I apologise."
Delegates were presented with a proposed new procedure for dealing with future negotiations with general secretaries or acting general secretaries.