The union's various councils offer a way for members to get more involved in different aspects of the union's work.
The union's various councils offer a way for members to get more involved in different aspects of the union's work. There are three major strands to the union's councils: industrial, geographic and equalities.
Members can be nominated for election to union councils every two years. Industrial and geographic councils, as well as the National Executive Council (NEC), are elected by ballots of the relevant sections of the membership. Other councils, such as the Equality and Disabled Members councils, are elected at the delegate meeting by a ballot of delegates.
Seats left vacant after the election, or that become vacant due to resignations or other reasons, are advertised to branches at regular intervals. Eligible members can be nominated to these vacancies by their branch.
The National Executive Council (NEC) is responsible for carrying out the instructions of the delegate meeting and oversees the work of the union's industrial, executive and equality bodies.
The council is made up of seats representing the union's geographic, sectoral and equality structures. Members can be nominated to NEC seats by branches and then elected by the constituency they represent in a postal ballot.
- Every member of the union has at least one representative on the NEC.
- The NUJ's general secretary is the union's chief executive officer and is a member of the NEC. The president, vice president and honorary general treasurer are elected from the membership of the NEC at each delegate meeting.
- The NEC is the union body that can grant authority for industrial action.
- The NEC has three sub-committees: development, policy and finance. These committees allow NEC members to engage in more strategic and detailed activity on the NEC's work, which is then reported back to the full NEC for approval.
The industrial councils deal with a range of issues in their sectors. Recruitment of new members and organising them into active chapels is a key priority.
Those that include already organised and recognised chapels in their membership are responsible for supporting and overseeing workplace negotiations.
Industrial councils also organise events relevant to the membership in their sector and promote vocational training.
Industrial councils set their own policies and work plans, within the confines of decisions made at the delegate meeting and the rulebook. They function as advisory bodies to the NEC to which they report.
The current industrial councils are:
- Broadcasting – campaigns on issues relevant to members in television and radio, from large employers including the BBC and ITN, to small production companies.
- Freelance – campaigns on issues relevant to self-employed members who produce content for different outlets.
- Magazine and Book – campaigns on issues relevant to members who work for magazines and those who work in book publishing.
- New media – campaigns on issues relevant to members who work for standalone online and mobile platforms, as well as members who work for non-media companies.
- Newspapers and Agencies – campaigns on issues relevant to members who work for newspapers, from hyperlocal titles to national titles, and members who work for news agencies such as AP and Thomson-Reuters.
- PR and Communications – campaigns on issues relevant to members who work for PR and communications agencies and members who work in the PR and communications departments of a wide range of organisations (media companies and others).
The Photographers' Council, while not an industrial council, functions in the same way to campaign on issues relevant to the union's photographer, photojournalist and videographer members.
The three geographic executive councils carry out the work of the union in the respective territories, responsible for the members in all sectors in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
As well as carrying out the work of industrial councils in those countries, they also engage in high level work with the relevant legislatures. For example, the Welsh and Scottish executive councils have secured funding from Senedd Cymru and the Scottish Parliament for members' training, while the Irish Executive Council has negotiated with successive Irish governments on issues such as improvements to freelance rights in the country.
Executive councils have relative autonomy within the confines of delegate meeting decisions and the rulebook. Their work and activities are reported to the NEC.
The Continental European Council brings together representatives of NUJ members working in continental Europe, in particular NUJ branches in Paris, Brussels and the Netherlands, to campaign on issues of common interest.
The union has a strong commitment to equality, diversity and social justice in the media and beyond. To ensure these principles are embedded, the NUJ has four councils that address different aspects of the equalities. These are:
- Black Members' Council – campaigns for greater ethnic diversity in the media and against racism.
- Disabled Members' Council – campaigns to improve access to the media for disabled people and to change society's views about disability.
- Equality Council – campaigns on a range of equality issues, including gender, sexual orientation, age and childcare.
- 60+ Council – campaigns on issues relevant to older people in the media, such as improved pensions.
The Ethics Council deals with members' complaints, promotes ethical guidance and provides advice and support to members on ethical issues. The ethics council works across all sectors and territories.