DM2021: Membership

  • 21 May 2021

New category of membership for “students”. Chapels to approve membership. Report on a new freelance category.

As the media landscape changes, so it throws up new titles, new work patterns and new sorts of workers. This section of DM looked at ways to increase membership and debate new types of membership.

A motion from the NEC which proposed ways to increase the conversion of student membership to fulltime membership was passed by delegates.  

Natasha Hirst, incoming vice-president, said:

"The present numbers of students moving straight to full NUJ membership is very low. This is at a time in their career when they are likely to be poorly paid and open to exploitation. We want to enable students to be able to keep in touch with the union and see the ways that they will be protected by being in the NUJ. This will bolster our efforts to increase the number of young activists who already play a big role in the union."

The vote means student members can remain in the union as student members until they get significant journalistic work and can switch their membership to another category. They would pay £10 (€15) a year by direct debit and would receive the Journalist. They would not be entitled to a UK press card or union benefits, although they could receive legal support at the NEC’s discretion should their case be of significance to the union. They would be entitled to attend and speak at their branch. Following an amendment by London Independent Broadcasting and New Media, they will be classed as developmental (student) members.

A rule change agreed by conference will allow approval of applications by a meeting of the relevant chapel or branch, whichever takes place first. Mark Johnson, Reach group chapel, said it would make it easier for chapels to organise.

Conference agreed a London Freelance Branch motion to give the NEC the task of examining ways “in which membership can be offered to those working in NUJ-eligible areas, who also have other work through which they make more income than from journalism” and to bring forward to the next DM recommendations on a new category of membership for such people.

Delegates also partially agreed a London Independent Broadcasting and New Media Motion which commits the NEC to commissioning a report on the current situation in workplaces in all sectors, establishing what the level of union membership is amongst non-journalistic staff, and to consider extending the NUJ's membership criteria to include other media workers. The union was also tasked with seeking “agreements with another union or other unions to recruit and organise non-journalistic workers in all sectors of the media”.

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