#DM18: Union recruitment
20 April 2018
The recruitment and retention session at conference opened with motion 63 focusing on welcoming the increase in NUJ members in the new media, digital and independent broadcasting sectors.
Matt Capon, left, from the London independent broadcasting and new media branch proposed motion 63 which encouraged a more unified and coherent approach to recruitment initiatives and strategies across the different sectors of the union.
Donnacha DeLong seconded the motion on behalf of the NEC, emphasising that the motion encouraged a broader approach in which activists could work together more effectively to build the NUJ.
Motion 63 was agreed by the delegates and instructed the NEC to encourage a "one union" approach and set out guidance for members on how best to recruit across the different sectors.
Composite G (covering motions 64 and 65 including amendments) was moved by first-time speaker and Welsh executive council representative, Rachel Howells. She highlighted the hard work done by NUJ members in Wales to establish a hyperlocal co-operative to fill the reporting deficit and news black hole in Port Talbot.
The motion instructed the NEC to develop a strategy to secure union membership in the hyperlocal and co-operative sector, especially where it was thriving in print, and the work should include:
- encouraging branches to help hyperlocals acquire the journalistic and commercial training they all needed to create sustainable business models;
- encouraging branches to provide mentoring to those involved in hyperlocal projects;
- encouraging branches to assist hyperlocals to obtain development funding;
- engaging with the Centre for Community Journalism at Cardiff University and the recently established Independent Community News Network;
- encouraging NUJ recruitment in hyperlocals.
Francis Sedgemore seconded the motion on behalf of the freelance industrial council. He said that most hyperlocal efforts were run by individuals, often freelances, and they needed support from the NUJ so the union should recruit and support them.
Natasha Hirst, right, moved motion 66 on behalf of the equality council. The motion recognised that young members were the future of the union and must be given every opportunity to become more active in the NUJ. The motion instructed the NEC to:
- investigate more ways to encourage young journalists to become NUJ members;
- encourage young members to become more active including, but not limited to, launching an NUJ young members network.
Natasha said the union should engage with new young members because it was essential for the survival of the NUJ. She also emphasised that the union needed more diversity in terms of union activists.
Nick McGowan-Lowe spoke in favour of the motion on behalf of the NEC. When he was in his 20s he was the youngest person in the room at an NUJ meeting, he told conference. When he was in his 30s and was still the youngest person in the room, he was flattered. Now that he is in his 40s, he is worried. He said the NEC wanted future delegate meetings to be more representative of working journalists and to do that the NUJ had to take action now. The motion was agreed by conference delegates.
Ahmed Elsheikh, left, from the London independent broadcasting and new media branch proposed motion 68. He reported to conference that his branch had heard complaints from young journalists who wanted the union to offer more solidarity and support. He urged the union to make the most of its members' enthusiasm and energy.
Mike Simons from the London magazine branch seconded motion 68, saying many young journalists were motivated by issues and idealism and the union needed to campaign for ethical journalism and against racism to recruit them.
Motion 68 acknowledges that it is essential for the union to recruit young journalists at the start of their careers, when they can be supported and mentored by more experienced NUJ members.
The motion warned that when the union was campaigning against churnalism, clickbait and targets, it should be careful not to blame the journalists who had no option but to do the work assigned to them.
The motion was agreed by conference and it instructed the NEC to collaborate with workplace representatives to ensure that, when campaigning against management decisions that reduce journalistic quality, they focused on recruiting young journalists instead of criticising them.
Motion 69 was also proposed by the London independent broadcasting and new media branch. Donnacha DeLong spoke to the motion and said that digital companies such as Vice and BuzzFeed liked to think they were doing things differently compared to others before them.
The NUJ now had more than 20 years' organising experience in digital workplaces and he urged the union to organise a road show to champion the union's expertise and the support available to NUJ members.
Christina Zaba, right, from the new media industrial council seconded the motion, and said that the NUJ needed to talk about what it has already achieved. It was important to promote the union's work because there were tens of thousands of potential new media NUJ members out there.
The motion was agreed by the delegates and it instructed the union to arrange events in 2018 to highlight the NUJ's history of organising new media workers and to investigate whether the union could play a greater part in industry events, such as award ceremonies and conferences.
* All photos: Paul Herrmann