London Freelance Branch meetings

FROM JUNE 2022, London Freelance Branch will hold hybrid meetings - accessible in person at the Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (map) and virtually via Zoom. Meetings continue to be at the usual time: 6:45pm sharp on the second Monday of each month (except, for the moment, August).

In order to help the Branch Committee plan room bookings, please complete this survey on how you'd like to attend.

Members will still be able to attend virtually via the Zoom platform over your laptop, desktop computer, tablet or other internet-enabled device. Details of how to sign up for Zoom are here. We send links shortly before the meeting: if you've misplaced yours or are having trouble entering the meeting please contact the secretary directly.

More details on the operation of hybrid meetings will follow.

[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. Branch training courses are listed separately here.

NOTE that 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.

There is information here on how the agendas for Branch meetings are put together.

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, on the last Thursday of every third month from 6pm. We currently plan that the July gathering will be face-to-face 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 10 Annual General Meeting 2022: elected a new Committee and amended the rules
Thu Jan 27 Meeting for members new to freelancing online, 6pm
Mon Feb 14 How to use Substack newsletters
Chris Mullin on protecting sources' confidentiality
Mon Mar 14 Support for members who are exiles (and see some earlier suggestions and a call for volunteers).
We also heard from a member in Moscow.
Mon Apr 11 Pay the creator - the Creators' Rights Alliance campaign, including a challenge to benefit rules
We also heard from Chris Mullin on his battle to protect his sources.
Thu Apr 28 Meeting for members new to freelancing online, 6pm
Mon May 09 Reporting on nuclear fears and hopes and an update on Julian Assange
Mon Jun 13 Vivienne Francis of the Refugee Journalism Project
Mon Jul 11 Andrew Don on How I earned 'enough to live reasonably comfortably' writing for b2b titles.
Plus a tribute to Branch member Dom Phillips, murdered in Amazonia
Thu Jul 28 Meeting for members new to freelancing
August No meeting
Mon Sep 12

This will be a hybrid meeting - members can either attend in person in the Bertrand Russell room at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (Tube: Holborn) or join virtually via Zoom. Whichever way you join, it starts at the usual time: 6:45pm.

Fact-checking and combating disinformation are the themes of this meeting. Our speakers include Steve Nowottny, Editor of Fullfact.org, a charity set up by a cross-party group with a mission to "fight bad information". Whether Steve can attend in person in the Conway Hall or whether he’ll join us via Zoom is to be confirmed.

Mon Oct 10

This meeting takes place during Black History Month and European freelance month. We’re looking for presentations related to both.

Thu Oct 27 Meeting for members new to freelancing
Mon Nov 14 To be announced
Mon Dec 12 Almost certainly a social event
Mon Jan 09 2023 Annual General Meeting 2023

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

Motions for the September meeting

Cost of living crisis

This Branch notes that inflation rose to seven per cent in March 2022. This is the official figure for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Bank of England (BoE) Monetary Policy Report for May 2022. The BoE further predicts that inflation will continue to rise, with a peak of over 10 per cent in the forth quarter of 2022. CPI is considered by most trades unionists to understate the actual affects of price changes on individuals.

This Branch notes that few adults currently in the workforce have experience of double-digit inflation – the UK last having been at this level in 1980/81, and for a sustained period in the previous decade. The shock to household budgeting is consequently without precedent in most workers’ lifetimes.

This Branch notes that freelance workers in general have suffered some of the hardest years on record as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite Self Employed Income Support payments providing a lifeline for some freelances, most have depleted savings and have delayed essential expenditure as a result of the pandemic.

This Branch notes that most major news platforms have increased their freelance fees little, it at all, in the past 20 years.

This Branch calls on the Union charity NUJ Extra to give close attention to the effects of this crisis on freelance members, particularly those in greatest need. This branch encourages the NUJ Extra trustees to consider creating a special package to help those in greatest need, in the spirit of the package that was created to help members through the pandemic.

This Branch resolves to donate an additional £200 per month to NUJ Extra to assist with the expected increased costs that the Charity will be meeting.

This Branch calls on the NUJ Freelance Industrial Council to initiate a campaign to shame news platforms into meaningfully increasing freelance rates.

This Branch calls on its members to support a campaign that the NUJ nationally should initiate, with the aim of achieving fair pay for all freelance news providers, collective bargaining for freelances across news platforms, and a commitment from publishers that fees keep pace with inflation.

The NUJ and Google

This Branch calls on the NUJ National Executive to publicly debate the merits of the recently-announced partnership with Google and then to poll the membership on whether we as a union should still proceed with the programme.

Firstly, this Branch believes that the National Executive has overstepped its mandate announcing this partnership without consulting the whole membership.

Secondly, this Branch believes that the relationship with Google has significant costs to the NUJ and may not be in best interest of the aims and ethics of our organisation. In particular we have deep concerns around potential reputational damage to the NUJ - given the severe lack of editorial or journalistic oversight Google has towards its commercial decisions. Furthermore, we are also extremely worried about the precedent it sets towards our members' copyright enforcement, give Google's routine flouting and indexing of journalists' content without their permission.

Finally, this Branch believes that there are potentially better and more independent partners the NUJ could engage with to learn and update journalists digital and management skills that have not been considered or consulted.

  • send your motion no later than 10 days before the meeting at which it should be debated; and see the form for motion details (Word .DOC)

The motions archive - 2022

Motions for the July meeting

Dom Phillips
passed 34:1

This Branch notes with horror and anger the murder in June 2022 of LFB member Dom Phillips, and indigenous culture activist Bruno Pereira with whom he was travelling.

This Branch notes that Dom Phillips was among the most innovative, determined and principled reporters. His work not only shone a light on the environmental and humanitarian tragedy that is being played out in Amazon, but brought some relief to the indigenous communities that he supported.

This Branch pledges to support efforts to create a suitable memorial to Dom Phillips, and, in consultation with Phillip’s family, aid efforts to keep his work alive.

This Branch notes that Phillips’ murder occurred against the backdrop indifference towards or hostility to those who work to protect Basil’s natural environment promoted by the country’s reactionary president, Jair Bolsonaro.

This Branch further notes that Phillips’ murder is further evidence of the danger faced by journalists while undertaking their work. This Branch resolves to support union-wide efforts to promote journalists’ safety.

Powerlands, indigenous people and climate breakdown
not reached

London Freelance Branch notes that:

  1. Climate breakdown presents an existential threat to life on our planet.
  2. Indigenous communities around the world have cultivated ways of living that protect and maintain ecosystems for centuries.
  3. Indigenous peoples have experienced genocide, enclosure and erasure through colonial invasions and violent expropriation of land by states and corporations for centuries.
  4. Indigenous peoples are still experiencing oppression and colonisation due to a prevalent capitalist, extractive, white supremacist model of viewing land, water and life as commodities.
  5. Many indigenous peoples have resisted this model and continue to strive to live in balance within ecosystems which enhance, protect and support planetary health, but face existential threats and violence from states and corporations seeking to control resources.
  6. Indigenous peoples facing this violence are often unresourced, unheard, and unseen within media, political, and social movement circles.

This branch believes:

  1. That indigenous communities should be recognised as peoples with rights.
  2. That indigenous communities should be supported to have their narratives and needs heard and met.
  3. That the practices and approaches of indigenous communities can educate us about our role and relationship with the earth and one another.
  4. That documentary film making by affected indigenous people representing themselves plays a key role in challenging the erasure and marginalisation of indigenous peoples.

This branch resolves:

  1. To donate £200 to support the platforming and distribution of Powerlands - a documentary made by young award-winning indigenous Navajo film maker IveyCamille Manybeads Tso - which represents a multitude of indigenous communities around the world struggling for a way of life that doesn't harm people and planet.
  2. To promote and support local screenings of Powerlands in our community and networks.
Motions for the June meeting

In memory of Shireen Abu Akleh
passed nem con amended to £400

London Freelance Branch resolves to donate £200 toward the costs of a memorial service for the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed on the outskirts of Jenin refugee camp in the occupied Palestinian territories on 11 May.

Amendment

The service, initiated by former Branch chair Pennie Quinton, will take place at the Journalists' Church - St Bride's, off Fleet Street - at 11:00am on Tuesday 28 June. The Branch contribution will go towards costs such as licensing the music used in the service. Any surplus will be donated to the Rory Peck Trust for the benefit of freelance journalists in conflict zones.

Disappearance of Dom Phillips (late notice motion)
passed nem con

Given the recent disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous rights official Bruno Pereira while researching violations of first nations' rights in the Amazonian region of Brazil, London Freelance Branch request the NUJ National Executive to urge the Foreign Office to ask the Brazilian government to speed up the search for these missing persons; to conduct a transparent investigation into their disappearance; and to bring the real culprits to justice.

Motions for the May meeting

Russia Today (amended motion)
passed

London Freelance Branch calls on the NEC (National Executive Council) to oppose the administrative harrassment of RT (Russia Today) and other Russian media that severely restricts their ability to publish their views. As a country if we believe in freedom of speech it must include hearing what we disagree with. In this particular case the UK government and the EU are seeking to prevent their citizens from hearing the other side of the story and in the UK case, preventing its own citizens from using the RT platform to express their own opinions. This behaviour undermines the trust of citizens in their government as it implies there may be matters our own government does not wish us to learn. RT's audience share is miniscule compared to the government and the national media audiences so it is difficult to see what they have to fear. It effectively undermines any complaint we may seek to make against any other country seeking to control the press, and opens us to allegations of hypocrisy..The UK should not seek to effectively restrict RT's access to our audiences and should encourage others not to do so either.

Motions for the April meeting

Journalists’ safety fund for Ukraine
passed as amended - nem con

This Branch resolves to donate £200 £500 to the IFJ/EFJ Safety Fund for Ukraine..

Room hire and meeting arrangements
passed as amended - nem con
(exact amendment text to be confirmed)

This Branch resolves to return to in-person branch meetings plan for in-person branch meetings and hybrid meetings, possibly alternating with all-online meetings, at the soonest possible safe point. It commissions the Branch Committee to seek out and arrange a suitable venue, ideally with the facilities for "hybrid" meetings (online and real life blended). It also commissions the committee to research and organise the appropriate catering arrangements for such meetings. Costs will, as in the past, be taken from the Branch management account.

Motions for the February meeting

Working Class Movement Library
passed

This branch resolves to donate £100.00 to the Working Class Movement Library in Manchester.

It notes that the branch has made regular donations to the library over the years.

Chris Mullin
passed

This branch condemns West Midlands Police for its demand that former MP Chris Mullin identify the confidential sources for his investigation of the Birmingham bombings of 1974.

That investigation was a courageous exercise in journalism that led directly to the release of the six men unjustly jailed for the bombings and would not have been possible without confidential information.

LFB congratulates the union leadership for the support it is giving Chris Mullin and agrees to back his case against the surrender of his confidential data, in line with longstanding NUJ policy, in any way he requests.

NUJ Extra
passed

This branch notes that a monthly standing order making a payment of £100.00 to the NUJ's charity NUJ Extra was made regularly during 2021, but came to an end in November 2021.

It resolves to reinstate that standing order, starting this month, February 2022.

Standing Order amendments
passed

This Branch resolves to amend its Standing Orders thus:

SO2

Delete third sentence. Replace with: "The agenda shall be agreed at the start. Any subsequent change to the agenda must be agreed by the meeting."

SO10

Delete third sentence. Replace with: "The Chair of a branch meeting shall have a single vote, with a casting vote only in the event of a tie in which s/he has not voted. If there is a tie in which the chair has already voted, the motion shall be declared 'not carried'."

Monthly remuneration increases
passed

London Freelance Branch remunerates key members for their contributions to the smooth running of branch functions. Although, historically, these costs have been increased on a yearly basis to offset inflation, the last raise occurred in 2015/16. It is now time to address these shortfalls.

The recommended amounts are based on an analysis of how long it has been since these rates were last reviewed, combined with the cumulative effects of inflation over that period, using a Bank of England algorithm located here.

While our key workers donate their time willingly, we should not take advantage of their magnanimity; they deserve to be compensated at a reasonable monthly rate. Their work is invaluable for every branch members, and to the wider community of freelance journalists.

The Remuneration Sub-committee recommends that:

  • The current £750 paid jointly to Freelance co-editors Matt Salusbury and Mike Holderness should be increased to £900 per month.
  • ·
  • The current £300 paid to social-media editor Nicci Talbot should be increased to £350 per month.

Remuneration back pay
passed

London Freelance Branch remunerates key members for their contributions to the smooth running of branch functions; the last increase occurred in 2015. These recommended amounts are based on an analysis of how long it has been since these rates were last reviewed, combined with the cumulative effects of inflation over that same period, using a Bank of England algorithm located here.

Such back pay is important, we consider, because their workload has increased, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their monthly rate has been eroded by inflation. While our key workers donate their time willingly, we should not take advantage of their magnanimity. Their work is invaluable for every branch members, and to the wider community of freelance journalists.

The Remuneration Sub-committee recommends that:

  • Freelance co-editors Matt Salusbury and Mike Holderness should jointly receive back pay for the past 69 months in the amount of £7245.
  • Social-media editor Nicci Talbot should receive back pay for the past 49 months in the amount of £2058.

NUJ Extra
passed

This branch instructs the outgoing treasurer to set up a new standing order for £100 a month to NUJ Extra, to be taken from the branch's management account.