The National Union of Journalists is to cut the frequency of its policy-making conference and raise subscriptions to combat a projected annual budget deficit of £600,000 by 2011.
Delegates at the NUJ’s General Meeting voted to switch from holding a conference every 12 months to one every year-and-a-half to shave £67,000 from the union’s annual budget as General Secretary Jeremy Dear warned about the potential hardship the union faced if cuts were not made.
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AGM delegates also voted to raise union subs to help bring in an additional £155,000 annually after Dear told the conference, in Southport, the union needed to stem an annual drop in income of more than £200,000.
The union’s funds were falling short as more than 550 journalists had left the union in the past year, Dear said, and it was now also making an annual payment of £160,000 to meet a pension shortfall of £1.8m.
Dear said: “We have to take tough decisions to save this union…
“Even if there was no inflation in the next three years, if membership did not decline, if staff receive no pay rises and paid no costs for transport, rent, heating or any other supplies we are facing a budget deficit of £600,000 per year by 2011.”
Dear said the union was also taking a series of measures to reduce costs and increase income, including cutting staff, renegotiating contracts and renting out part of its Grey’s Inn Road headquarters, in London.
The motions passed by ADM are expected to create an extra £200,000. The other steps taken by the NUJ, a spokesman told Press Gazette later, amounted to a saving of around £400,000 per year, helping it balance its budget.
However, the plan put forward by the union’s national executive committee to move the conference to an 18 month cycle caused fierce debate on the conference floor, with a number of delegates fearing union democracy could be compromised by the move.
Dear added: “We can have a conference every 12 months but we will not be able to afford to do the things our members want us to. More talk and less action is not the recipe for a campaigning union.”