The National Union of Journalists is facing the prospect of job losses among its own staff, in an attempt to avoid insolvency and a merger with another trade union.
It follows a vote by the union's national executive council in favour of a Recovery Plan, prompted by a fall in membership subscriptions, caused not least by what is being described as an “unprecedented assault on jobs, particularly in the local and regional press”.
Says Michelle Stanistreet, the union's general-secretary, in a memo: “Despite significant and sustained recruitment, we have seen membership drop sharply, down 18 per cent in the past five years, and whilst the union has budgeted for two per cent declines in subscription income over the past three years, this has dipped to five per cent in the last six months. Despite a number of measures already taken in recent years and months, the pressures on our budgets have continued, seeing the depletion of our assets and reserves.
“Doing nothing is not an option. If no action is taken the union would face insolvency and the consequential prospect of a merger as soon as later this year.”
She later continues: “Included in the Recovery Plan is a commitment to ensuring that staffing costs account for no more than 45 per cent of members' subscription income. We have to say clearly that this will mean redundancies, and a consultation process over staff redundancies has been running over the past month and will continue as all options are considered and negotiated with the three staff unions within the NUJ. This will be a fair and transparent process with full involvement of all staff. A consultation with staff to ensure that the NUJ pension schemes are sustainable will also begin.”
It's not known what, if any impact, there will be on the NUJ's Scottish operation. It relatively recently was reduced from one Organiser and two assistants to one Organiser and one assistant.
The union's UK-wide conference in October will be asked to approve an increase in membership subscription fees by five per cent. Plus to endorse a proposal that the conference is put on a two-yearly cycle as opposed to its current 18-month one.