Press reports indicate that the National Union of Journalists’ rescue plan includes compulsory redundancies affecting 20% of its present staff. The same reports say that some factions within the NUJ are unhappy because of what they perceive as lack of consultation.
It must be noted that the NUJ is facing insolvency if it does not tackle what has been qualified as ‘a severe financial crisis’. If no viable solution is found, we could be talking about the end of the National Union of Journalists.
It must also be noted that according to media sources the loss of 9 staff would mean savings for the amount of 400,000 pounds, about 44,445 pound per head. In the big scheme of things, the National Union of Journalists is basically irrelevant and now they cannot even protect the interests of its members with regards to the actions of the organization itself.
Other measures of a package of measures aimed at saving the organization include: ending annual conferences, abolishing the training department and limiting salaries of its staff.
Some years ago, while working for British Satellite News on a contract with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I had some experience regarding what the National Union of Journalists could achieve when trying to protect its members. Employees affiliated to the NUJ only received the amounts stipulated by employment laws of the day and not a penny more and it happened under a Labour administration.
It feels like the amounts paid to the NUJ as membership fees are a bit like the PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) charged by lending institutions. They make people believe that they have some kind of extra protection when in fact employees who are not affiliated to the trade union will receive exactly the same compensation amounts as those who pay their trade union membership fees.
On top of that, given the political agenda of the National Union of Journalists, the extremely biased messages of the NUJ do not favour its popularity. Professionals are therefore paying to then be told what to do or what not to do. Given present trends affecting employment levels, journalists – affiliated and not affiliated – are losing their jobs across the country.
Some months ago, trade union membership in general was about 15% in the private sector and 57% in the public sector. We don’t have the figures in terms of the NUJ but we suspect that membership levels are not going up and this is very much the source of the present financial troubles of the National Union of Journalists.