NUJ faces revolt over radical cuts plan

The NUJ is facing grassroots revolt over plans to reduce staff costs by £400,000 to stave off possible bankruptcy.

A leaked memo from general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, seen by Press Gazette revealed the union was facing a serious financial crisis, warning that unless immediate action was taken it could be insolvent with four months.

The National Executive Council voted through a series of cutbacks last month, but Press Gazette understands splits are beginning to emerge over the handling of the budget.

With monthly deficits averaging more than £20,000, the union’s overall deficit at the end of February was £267,000.

Measures to slash the deficit include cutting total staff costs by £400,000, which is equivalent to around nine redundancies from its 47 staff, increasing subscriptions by 5 per cent and reducing daily freelance loss of earnings payments.

It also wants to scrap loss-making union-funded professional training activities and hold delegate meetings every two years.

At a branch meeting of the London Photographers’ Branch last week, members passed a motion saying they were ‘greatly concerned’by reports on the NUJ’s financial position.

It called on the NUJ to distribute copies of Stanistreet’s leaked report – called ‘NUJ Recovery Plan – Towards a Sustainable Union’to all members, and opposed compulsory redundancy of NUJ staff (the union is currently in talks with staff about a voluntary redundancy scheme).

The branch also opposed any move towards biennial delegate meetings, but supported the union’s attempts to increase membership with the creation of a ‘Recruitment Task Force’.

Meanwhile, the NUJ Left faction is holding a meeting to discuss the NUJ’s cost-cutting measures at the end of June.

Sources expect it to be ‘lively’meeting, with many on the left of the union opposing Stanistreet’s attempt to cut the union’s deficit.

Attempts are also being made to tackle the union’s massive pension deficit, which it said could range anywhere from between £500,000 to £4m.

The union is set to meet with its bank Unity Trust this next week to discuss its financial situation and to show it has a clear plan of action for tackling the crisis.

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