Where has all the money gone?
WHAT DOES London Freelance Branch do with its money? Every quarter, the branch gets around £6000 as a "management allowance" - a proportion of members" subscriptions to do, well, what it says: manage our affairs. This costs around £2000 a month, so it balances well. Our main outgoings are the Freelance and meetings - both, I am sure all members will agree, vital and, in the case of the meetings, obligatory.
A few years ago, we managed to build up a bit of a surplus, which we've used to make generous donations. For example, in 2006, we gave £200 to the Ukrainian journalists' union; £450 to the families of killed or injured Iraqi journalists and £662 for Ghanaian journalist Kwesi Pratt to attend the World Social Forum in Nairobi. In addition, we spent almost £2000 on the union's photographers' conference and gave £1000 apiece to the Creators' Rights Alliance and the welfare fund NUJ Extra.
In 2007, we gave £400 to Media Workers Against the War; over £100 towards NUJ membership for Iraqi journalist Isam Rasheed and getting his Press Card to him; bought a camera worth almost £668 for the Independent Middle East Media Centre www.imemc.org and agreed to donate £499 to the Mexican media organisation CIPO RFM.
This year, we've given £200 to the Zimbabwe Journalists' Union and £200 to the Hope not Hate campaign. That's in addition spending just over £3000 on our January conference on press freedom.
All the above illustrates that the branch has supported many and diverse good causes.
But, as the great Robert Zimmerman has pointed out, the times they are a-changing. At least temporarily. Over at the NUJ's Head Office, things have not been going badly so much as Not As Well As We Had Hoped, and we've agreed to return £5000 (a large proportion of our surplus), to help run the union centrally. Good causes may, for the moment, need to rely on the traditional collections at meetings.