Annual Delegate Meeting 2009 – heart and soul of the union

By Simon Chapman

After a gap of 18 months, the NUJ’s Annual Delegate Meeting, or ADM for short, has just taken place in Southport, running from 20-22 November 2009.

NUJlogoADM is a bit like a Parliament, with any NUJ Branch able to send one or more delegates depending on the number of members it has. Delegates propose motions, debate, and vote, and as the sovereign body of the NUJ, ADM can instruct the National Executive Council (NEC) to carry out the wishes of the membership and make NUJ policy. It is up to the NEC to implement motions between ADMs, in consultation with the General Secretary and the NUJ’s staff.

Bristol Branch sent three delegates to ADM: Paul Breeden, Simon Chapman, and Christina Zaba. In addition to Branches, delegates from NUJ Councils are also present at ADM, and can propose motions and speak, but cannot vote. This year Bristol Branch member Mike Jempson was a delegate for Ethics Council, and Tony Gosling was a delegate for the New Media Industrial Council.

We also sent Bernard Smyth, as one of our members aged over 60, to the inaugural meeting of the NUJ pensioners’ organisation (open to all NUJ members who are 60+) which took place on November 19. The new 60+ NUJ organisation will work in the interest of older NUJ members with an emphasis on their needs in retirement.

You can read Bernard’s report about NUJ 60+ here.

The speakers at the meeting were Jim Eadie of the NUJ Irish Pensioners; Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ Deputy General Secretary; and special guest of honour, former Observer journalist Katharine Whitehorn.

Again this year there was a Student Conference, held on 19 November. Bristol Branch sent Julija Jegorova who is a first year student studying journalism at UWE. Julija also stayed on for the rest of ADM as part of the student team covering the conference. Please see www.nujadm.org.uk for hot news and gossip from ADM!

You can read Julija reacted to the hectic challenge of constant deadlines and lack of sleep reporting ADM here.

You can also find some of Julija’s reports on her blog here.

Bristol Branch proposed seven motions, some of which became amendments to similar motions from other branches. These cover the lack of women in the NUJ hierarchy; making minutes of NUJ Councils available online; setting up a photographers Industrial Council; the little-known right of journalists’ to prevent some items such as contacts books being seized by police if they are arrested; reform of the Press Complaints Commission; representation of women in the media, and problems for freelances at the BBC. We spoke to ADM to introduce these motions and ask other delegates to vote for them.

We also proposed a Late Notice Motion on copyright, following the publication of “© the way ahead: A Strategy for Copyright in the Digital Age” by the Intellectual Property Office. The document contains ideas on changes to copyright law that could impact severely on NUJ members. Our motion is for a campaign against allowing users to to set their own price for using copyright work, or to allow private and non-commercial use without permission or payment, which would weaken copyright law.

The Freelance Industrial Council also tabled a Late Notice Motion for a campaign on rights for creators, including unwaivable and enforceable moral rights, payment for both use and re-use of work, safeguards for using “orphan works”, and the means to get effective deterrent compensation from those who steal our work.

There were more than 160 motions, many with amendments, spread over three days from Friday morning to Sunday lunchtime. The NUJ’s financial situation is an issue. Normally ADM is every year, but members agreed to save money by holding ADM once every 18 months or two years. Additionally it was agreed to raise the level of NUJ subscriptions by around three per cent.

There were motions calling for a big campaign for investment and quality journalism, looking at new models of media ownership, and a Government review of state of the media industry. For the full agenda, please see the NUJ website ADM page here.

ADM is a big expense for the NUJ, which pays centrally for the cost of delegate travel, hotel accommodation and food. Bristol Branch is paying for the cost of our over-60 and student delegates.

But far from enjoying sunny Southport, we did not see much beyond the conference hall. Listening and debating motions for three days in a row is very intense, but there is some relief as discussions carry on in the evenings at the bar, and with entertainment in the form of the ADM satirical revue on Saturday night, which can display much creativity and self-deprecatory humour.

But above all, ADM is the NUJ’s democracy, the way that members’ concerns, views and wishes are heard, and the way that much NUJ policy is agreed on your behalf. It is part of the heart and soul of the union.

Links:

www.nujadm.org.uk

ADM page

UWE’s Independent Journalism Society

Filed Under: National NUJ

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