NUJ proposes to sell HQ and move in with broadcast union

The NUJ is proposing to sell its London headquarters and share new offices with the broadcasting union Bectu to reduce costs and increase efficiency, Press Gazette has learned.

A paper from the union’s ruling National Executive Council, titled Building for the Future, recommends that the union sells its Headland House building on Grays Inn Road to raise £1m in capital gains and make an extra £150,000 available for union funds.

Savings will be made through heat and light payments and sharing some staff and facilities.

Merging the union’s Manchester office with Bectu’s could also save about £20,000 a year,and a closer partnership is possible in Wales, where Bectu have an office.

The project has been ‘unanimously endorsed’by the Bectu National Executive. Bectu has a membership of 26,000 compared to the NUJ’s 37,558, and employs 48 full-time staff.

A third organisation – the General Federation of Trade Unions, which proves training to unions – would also be housed in the new building.

The report warns that the ‘political reality’of a future Conservative government – and more punitive union regulation – would place ‘severe pressures on both unions”.

‘We must aim to have a sound asset base and ensure we maximise income and improve efficiency. This project will help us achieve those aims,’the document said.

The plan could also see closer involvement with the two unions on broadcasting issues, due to technological changes bringing members of both closer together.

It said: ‘Our industrial work, joint organising and recruitment initiatives in both existing and new areas including in commercial broadcasting could be significantly enhanced…”

The two unions were duplicating work in ‘research, submissions to government/regulators, legal advice and numerous other areas”.

Building for the Future said that if Bectu was ‘forced to look around for a merger’it is likely it would consider the super-union Unite. The report warns that this scenario ‘would represent a serious challenge for the NUJ given that Bectu have recognition for ALL grades at the BBC“.

A possible future property has been earmarked in Moreland Road, EC1, which is currently owned by the union Unite and on the market at around £6m. Chapel reps and union officials have already toured the building and NEC members are to view it thisThursday.

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