The NUJ mulls plan to ditch elected post of deputy general secretary after Fitzpatrick departure

The National Union of Journalists is proposing to do away with the elected post of deputy general secretary.

Barry Fitzpatrick decided to step down at the end of last year two years into his five-year-term as the second most senior elected official in the union.

No election has been called to find a replacement for Fitzpatrick pending the outcome of a review of the position being carried out by the union’s National Executive Council.

The NUJ’s biannual delegate meeting, which takes place in Eastboourne next week, is due to discuss a motion from the NEC calling for a rule-change doing away with the need for an election to replace Fitzpatrick.

It states: “DM re-affirms the priority of industrial organisation as the  heart of the union’s collective strength and acknowledges the central role of the deputy general secretary in this.

"DM instructs the NEC to amend the rules to take into account the results of the staff review to give effect to the principles that the Deputy General Secretary shall no longer be a member of the NEC or its Emergency Committee and therefore shall no longer be an elected post."

An NUJ spokesperson told Press Gazette: “The NEC proposal which will be debated at the DM is to end the election of a deputy general secretary position. The issue of deputisation will then be addressed in the normal industrial relations bargaining between the NUJ and the officials’ chapel.

"The context for this is that any new election for the DGS position would be for a post that requires full time industrial official duties, and all of the skills and experience this requires. Having one official position that is subject to election, whilst none of the other commensurate roles are not would be an anomaly, nor are there proposals on the table for all officials to be elected.

"The issue of deputising for the general secretary can be carried out in different ways – and has been in the past – and if passed, this is what would be addressed through the normal procedures.  Currently the union has an assistant general secretary, the Irish secretary, and it could be that the title of DGS is retained or that the number of assistant general secretaries is enlarged.”

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