London Freelance Branch meetings

LFB MEETINGS are currently virtual meetings, held via the Zoom platform over your laptop, desktop computer, tablet or other internet-enabled device. (Details of how to sign up for Zoom are below.)

These virtual LFB meetings are held at the usual time: 6:45pm sharp on the second Monday of each month (except, for the moment, August).

When face-to-face LFB meetings resume, they will be at NUJ HQ, Headland House, 72 Acton Street WC1X 9NB: go directly to the meeting schedule (or to this month's motions.)

[NUJ London Freelance Branch]

Please check back here - meeting subjects and speakers inevitably change from time to time. Members who have supplied a working email address to the NUJ centrally get a monthly email alert and virtual Freelance listing.

The Branch Committee believes that under the emergency circumstances we can take motions in online meetings and regard them as passed if there are no voices against - if, in the jargon, they are passed nem con (Latin for "none against"). There is no provision for contested votes remotely under the Branch rules. Any motion for a meeting must be sent, in writing, to the Freelance editors ten days before the meeting date: see below for a handy form for submitting motions. See here for guidance on Tweeting and recording meetings.

The Branch also organises meetings for members new to freelance journalism, to meet other people new to the Branch and members with more experience of freelance journalism. Currently these are virtual meetings via Zoom, on the last Thursday of every third month from 6pm: if you have recently joined, or transferred into, London Freelance Branch of the NUJ you should receive an invitation in email.

Date Speaker/subject
Mon Jan 13 Annual General Meeting 2020: elected a new Committee. Chair's report here.

Thu Jan 30 Meeting for members new to freelancing
Mon Feb 10 Hyper-local news. How does that work, then? Report of David Altheer's talk
Mon Mar 09 Control-shift! the woes and other things of shift work
Mon Apr 20 Meeting cancelled - due to coronavirus
Thu Apr 30 Virtual new members' meeting, via Zoom
Tue May 5 LFB Live: virtual "surgery" for members
Mon May 11 In the eye of the storm our online meeting with the General Secretary and Freelance Orgamiser
Tue May 19 LFB Live: virtual "surgery"
Tue Jun 2 LFB Live: virtual "surgery" for freelance members to pose problems and seek advice on matters Corona-related... or not. Committee members will be on hand to offer their best. See here for full information.
Mon Jun 08

Another virtual meeting: What future for the BBC?

What, for example, is the future for the licence fee? How else can an independent broadcaster serving everyone in the nations and regions be funded?

Our speakers will be Tom Mills, Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and author of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service, and NUJ National Broadcasting organiser Paul Siegart.

Meeting convener Tim Gopsill writes: After years of chipping away at the BBC, the government is now threatening to land a massive blow to the that will cut its services and wreck its independence. After last December's election Boris Johnson launched a politically-motivated attack to cut its funding yet further to frighten it from reporting the government fairly and accurately.

The Beeb has been a much-loved public institution, rather like the NHS. Both have taken a battering from governments over the last 10 years but the covid crisis has shown how badly both of them are needed, in their proper fully-funded forms. Next Monday LFB will debate the BBC's future in its June meeting online.

Earlier this year LFB debated the BBC's future and voted for a motion (see here) to go to the union's national Delegate Meeting, to make sure the union itself mounts a strong defence of the BBC and the journalists who work for it. Whether they do or not, all members are welcome to take part.

A link to take you to the Zoom meeting, along with a password and meeting ID, will be emailed shortly before the event to members who are already on the Freelance mailing list.

NOTE: please go to www.zoom.us well before the meeting starts to get the new, more secure "client" program. Older versions stopped working on 30 May.


Mon Jul 13

Topic and speaker to be announced

Thu Jul 30 Meeting for members new to freelancing - quite likely a virtual one...
August No meeting (except possibly in the event of the lockdown ending shortly before...)
Mon Sep 14 To be announced
Mon Oct 12 To be announced
Thu Oct 29 Meeting for members new to freelancing
Mon Nov 11 To be announced
Mon Dec 14 In a usual year, a Branch social event
Mon Jan 11 2021 Annual General Meeting 2021

The Branch Committee welcomes suggestions for speakers and topics for meetings: contact editor@londonfreelance.org.

Motions for the June meeting

Training

Because of the covid-19 crisis this branch resolves to subsidise individual members who sign up for and attend Zoom freelance courses run by the national union in July, so that they do not pay more than £25 – the rate offered by the NUJ Scotland for its Zoom sessions. The day-long courses are First Steps in Freelancing on 17 July, costing £40 for NUJ members; and Winning and Negotiating Freelance Work on July 31, costing £50 for NUJ members. The cost to the branch training fund should be capped at £300.

The motions archive - 2020

Motions for the May meeting

Donations to NUJ Extra
passed nem con

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, and regular LFB face-to-face LFB Branch meetings being cancelled with effect from April, the Branch officers have taken the decision to donate the £450 a month that would otherwise be spent each month on room hire and catering meetings to the Union's independent charity NUJ Extra, each month until normal meetings resume. This is in addition to the £100 per month to NUJ Extra previously agreed. The committee seeks the retrospective approval of this decision.

Motions for the March meeting

DM late notice motion: The future of the BBC
passed (but no DM to take it to)

London Freelance Branch proposes the following late notice motion:

This DM is alarmed at the prospect of the future of the BBC following the Conservative victory in the general election of December 12 last year.

DM notes the threats from the Prime Minister, his advisors and other ministers to stigmatise the BBC with dubious accusations of bias, to drastically curtail its operations and bring an end to the licence fee system.

DM declares that the BBC's public service remit and its editorial independence must be defended and instructs the NEC to join with BBC workers and with media reform, consumer and labour movement groups in campaigning to do so.

This campaigning must cover the future source of BBC funding. DM recognises that the licence fee may no longer be tenable in the long run and must be replaced with a more equitable system of revenue generation that preserves the BBC's independence.

DM rejects the idea of a subscription regime in which viewers, readers and listeners pay only for the services they choose. This would wreck the BBC's universality, which must be retained.

DM instructs the NEC to begin an urgent process of assessing alternative systems and, together with other campaigning groups, launch a drive to secure the BBC's future.

DM late notice motion: notice motion: EU Settlement Scheme
passed (but no DM to take it to)

This DM notes with alarm that the UK Government in January threatened with deportation all EU national residents who have not completed their EU Settlement Scheme registration by the end of the Transition Period for the UK's exit from the EU, ending on 31 December 2020. (The EU Settlement Scheme, also known as EU Settled Status, gives EU nationals permanent residence in UK after Brexit.)

This DM notes that the NUJ has many members who are EU nationals in the UK, especially those working in self-employment in the Freelance sector, for whom providing evidence of economic activity for at least the last five years - a requirement of the EU Settlement Scheme - can be very complicated.

DM further notes numerous technical problems with the EU Settlement Scheme - for example, the app through which EU nationals have to apply has only recently started working on iPhones. Many EU nationals have been delaying their EU Settlement Status application in the reasonable belief that these technical issues will be sorted out. Others are reluctant to apply for fear of refusal.

DM also notes that there have been some unexpected rejections of applications by EU nationals working in important roles. Many who have been in the UK for more than 5 years have been given only temporary status. In this hostile environment, some of our members fear a sudden deportation.

DM commends the efforts of the NUJ's legal team in supporting EU nationals by obtaining and circulating legal advice for EU nationals on Settled Status applications.

DM calls on the NEC to ensure that up to date legal advice for NUJ members on the EU Settlement Scheme is available and that members know about it. DM further calls on the NEC to ensure that all the relevant NUJ staff are trained to respond to our EU national members who have enquiries about the EU Settlement Scheme, and are able to refer members with such enquiries to advice on this issue, whether within or outside the Union.

The motions archive - 2020

Motions for the February meeting

The provisional agenda for the NUJ's Delegate Meeting (DM) in April in Southport is here - visible to NUJ members only, you'll need your membership number to view it. It includes Motion 63 and Motion 124 (see below).

DM motion: gender discrimination in freelance pay
passed

Motion 63 to the Union's Delegate Meeting proposes that the union investigates gender discrimination in freelances' rates.

London Freelance Branch resolves to propose the following amendment:

Add at end of Motion 62:
  • This DM further instructs the NEC to commission analysis of the data held by London Freelance Branch in its Rate for the Job database and to promote the Rate for the Job throughout the union.

Applied to Delegate Meeting Motion 124 on Membership. Two amendments proposed:

Amendment 1:
passed

Line 11, delete:

"temporary membership" and substitute "all classes of membership except members of honour, life members, retired members and student members".

Lines 19/20, Delete "Such members would be entitled to a press card" and substitute "These members would be entitled to apply for and receive a Press Card if their work meets the UKPCA's (United Kingdom Press Card Authority's) criterion that they 'earn most or all of his/her income on the front-line of the news business'".

Line 23 delete all after "classed as" to end and substitute "NUJ membership".

Final wording if this is used:

This DM notes that changes to working practices have had a significant effect on recruitment patterns. Temporary and associate membership no longer fully fulfill their purpose and many of those seeking to join the union work part-time, or, if seeking to work full time, have to work part-time or even full time elsewhere as the gig economy becomes more commonplace and freelancing through necessity becomes the norm rather than the exception.

This DM therefore instructs the NEC to amend the rules to effect the principle that all classes of membership except members of honour, life members, retired members and student members should be replaced by a class of membership that allows anyone earning money from eligible work (or is seeking to earn money from eligible work) to become a member. There would be a basic membership fee of the minimum subscription as detailed in rule 4b(iii) and this membership class would attract 1 per cent reduced contributions on journalism income with a minimum sub of £60pa for those earning less than £6,000pa. These members would be entitled to apply for a Press Card in the normal way and receive one if their work meets the UKPCA's criterion that they 'earn most or all of his/her income on the front-line of the news business'. This would be classed as NUJ membership."

Amendment 2:
not taken

a) Line 20, insert after 'entitled to' the words 'apply for'. After 'a press card' delete '(usual rules apply)' and substitute 'and receive one if their work meets the UKPCA's criterion that they 'earn most or all of his/her income on the front-line of the news business' b) Line 23 replace 'probationary' (two occurrences) with 'associate'.

Then add at end:

This DM also believes that qualification for full membership should not be based solely on the proportion of a potential member's income from NUJ-eligible work (given that in many cases non-NUJ-eligible work is likely to constitute and continue to constitute the larger part of an applicant’s income). This DM therefore instructs the NEC to further amend the rules so that applicants will only be expected to demonstrate that they are carrying out a significant amount of paid NUJ-eligible work, even if it is not gaining them the larger part of their income.

Final wording if this is adopted would read:

This DM notes that changes to working practices have had a significant effect on recruitment patterns. Temporary and associate membership no longer fully fulfill their purpose and many of those seeking to join the union work part-time, or, if seeking to work full time, have to work part-time or even full time elsewhere as the gig economy becomes more commonplace and freelancing through necessity becomes the norm rather than the exception.

This DM therefore instructs the NEC to amend the rules to effect the principle that temporary membership should be replaced by a class of membership that allows anyone earning money from eligible work (or is seeking to earn money from eligible work) to become a member. There would be a basic membership fee of the minimum subscription as detailed in rule 4b(iii) and this membership class would attract 1 per cent reduced contributions on journalism income with a minimum sub of £60pa for those earning less than £6,000pa.

Such members would be entitled to apply for a Press Card in the normal way and receive one if their work meets the UKPCA's criterion that they 'earn most or all of his/her income on the front-line of the news business' but could not stand for national union office. Membership would not offer financial benefits (as detailed in rule 5). This would be classed as associate membership. Associate members should be transferred to full membership as soon as they qualify.

This DM also believes that qualification for full membership should not be based solely on the proportion of a potential member's income from NUJ-eligible work (given that in many cases non-NUJ-eligible work is likely to constitute and continue to constitute the larger part of an applicant's income). This DM therefore instructs the NEC to further amend the rules so that applicants will only be expected to demonstrate that they are carrying out a significant amount of paid NUJ-eligible work, even if it is not gaining them the larger part of their income.

Delegate Meeting expenses
passed

This Branch resolves to meet reasonable expenses to allow its deegates to the Union's Delegate Meeting to have single rooms.

Motions for the Annual General Meeting and the ordinary January meeting

Standing Orders - student representative
passed

In the Branch Standing Orders insert new item 7:

7 In addition to the above an Annual General Meeting may elect one Student Representative, who chall be a student member of the NUJ and a member of the Branch duly nominated and seconded by full members of the Branch. Any successful candidate shall be entitled to attend meetings of the Branch Committee but, not being a full member of the Union, shall perforce not be entitled to vote.
and re-number subsequent items.

Trades Councils
passed: also Kensington and Chelsea area Trades Council

This Branch resolves to send representatives to Waltham Forest Trades Council.

ElectionWatch
passed

This branch agrees to donate £200.00 to ElectionWatch (organised by Granville Williams of NUJ Leeds Branch and CPBF North) to cover expenses of analysing coverage of the 2019 General Election.

This branch further agrees to reimburse reasonable expenses for a Branch member selected by the Committee to attend the ElectionWatch conference in Leeds on Saturday 8 February and report on it for the Freelance.

Working Class Movement Library
passed

This branch agrees to donate £200.00 to the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

Freelance salon
passed

LFB committee is looking at holding an evening event in the Branch Salon series, no earlier than March 2020.

The proposed speaker topic is Reporting The Climate Emergency (idea from LFB member Stuart Smith).

We estimate the potential cost for room, catering and speaker expenses and photographer fee will total £980.

If we hire the St Anne's Community Hall, Soho (our December branch party venue) optimum attendance would be circa 70 at £10 a head for NUJ members (say £20 for non-members), but it's proposed that the event doesn't go ahead if the attendance shapes up as under 30 (31 days in advance for free cancellation).

So minimum income would be £300 (maximum a little over £700).

Accordingly, LFB resolves to underwrite the event for a maximum loss of £680.