By Christina Zaba, branch chair
At last the new branch website is up and running. It’s been a long time in the planning – we’re all working journalists doing this in our spare time – but we’re proud that it’s here, and looking forward to building it up in the months to come.
Since the successful Opportunities Day which the branch organised last May, we’ve been committed to creating a more effective web-based way of staying in touch with members and letting people know what we do.
The NUJ is here to help. If you’re a newspaper, TV or radio journalist, an author or editor, a photographer or camera operator, PR professional or website designer or writer, if you work freelance or in a staff job, if you make films or documentaries or work in a press office or for a news agency or magazines publisher, if you’re a journalism or media student or a journalist in exile, then the NUJ is the trade union for you.
We’re one of the smaller trade unions. At just 37,000 members, the National Union of Journalists is a small fish in a sea inhabited by giants like Unite (1.2m) and PCS (300,000). But we punch well above our weight and our voice is heard in Parliament and all over the world. Unlike some of the bigger unions, we can afford to dwell on detailed cases and individual requests. You can make a big difference if you’re in the NUJ.
It’s worth joining for many reasons. You may think you’re secure in your job and that you don’t need the legal team or advice that a union can provide, still less the support of colleagues or other trade unions.
Think again. The NUJ not only stands up for people in the workplace, but also provides advice and support for freelances, professional training, e-lists and publications, contacts and communities. It is a whole network of like-minded professionals who want to help, and it’s there for you.
We decide policy, feed through to the NUJ’s parliamentary group, run campaigns, organise actions, and deal with every media organisation in the country. We stand up for equality, diversity, and an ethical and independent profession. Above all, we stand up for our members.
In changing times, membership of the NUJ can be, and often is, the gateway to new employment prospects. It can help provide the stable base on which you build your media career. Unlike an employer, the NUJ will not summarily sack you. And if you’re in trouble, it will offer practical support and advice, formal and informal.
The key principle of the trade union movement is that by standing together and helping one another, we can ensure decent pay and conditions for all.
People represented by trade unions earn on average nine per cent more than others. Workplaces with strong union representation are healthier, more sensible, more fair and more efficient. There are benefits for management too. As they say – it’s good to talk.
If all else fails, your union can take legal action on your behalf, or industrial action on behalf of a workforce. In an era of vanishing jobs, changing media and copyright meltdown, it’s never been more important to belong.
The workers united will never be defeated. It sounds old-fashioned, but every day in the NUJ we see that inspiring solidarity in action. Standing together is a powerful thing. It was a trade union, after all, which brought down Communism itself, and the Berlin Wall, 20 years ago.
In Bristol branch of the NUJ we work hard to support members, raise awareness and give colleagues a place to meet and make a difference. We have an executive of six officers, including specialists in freelance and equality issues, as well as a friendly website designer – thanks, Chris! NB. everyone should visit www.bristol247.com…
We’re the biggest and most active NUJ branch in the region, and we receive a modest quarterly allowance from the union to run meetings, send delegates to conferences, hold and subsidise training and social events, organise campaigns, and support workplace groups or ‘chapels’, of which we have four in the branch, at the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press, BBC, ITV and BBC Worldwide.
We send a delegation to the NUJ national conference, the ‘Annual Delegates’ Meeting’ or ADM, every year, and to the NUJ Women’s Conference. Our activists sit on a range of NUJ national committees, from the Freelance Industrial Council to the Ethics Council. We hold six executive and six branch meetings a year, to which every member is invited. We also love parties, though being so busy, we can’t have them as often as we’d like.
The media matters not just to journalists, but to everyone. So every year we hold the popular NUJ/Arnolfini Benn Lecture, to open up the debate with the Bristol public. The 2009 lecture, ‘Bad News: What’s Wrong with the Press?’ will be given by the Guardian’s top investigative journalist Nick Davies, author of the bestselling Flat Earth News, on 26th November, 7 p.m. at Arnolfini. Come along: it’s £5 if you’re a member.
Every branch officer, or person who contributes to the work of the branch, does so unpaid. We do it because we care, and because we can see the real benefits it brings, to ourselves and others. We do it also because we’re concerned about what’s happening in the media.
In the months ahead we aim to build this site into a resource for the whole profession in Bristol. But that will depend on you, the readers, and the journalistic community in the South-West. Support us. Let us have your news, events and thoughts. Join the union, come to meetings. It’s fun and it’s inspiring. And we’re only as strong as the members we have. So please: get involved.
Filed Under: Branch News