Last Thursday’s meeting of the policy committee (PC) was the first for the new NEC. The agenda was lengthy because the remit of the committee is very wide ranging – from parliamentary and TUC matters to international – the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).
Our first job was to elect a chair and this we did – Jim Boumelha (who is currently the president of the IFJ) being our unanimous choice.
We then moved onto a review of motions passed at last year’s conference held in Southport. Motions that are relevant to the work of the committee were considered and an update given on progress.
While most fall to our officials to progress, a few were referred to PC members to get on with. For instance a motion on Identification in court of adult defendants originally moved by the Netherlands branch told us to liaise with European journalists unions – so that’s down to me as the union’s nominee to the EFJ steering committee (a job currently held by John Barnsby).
It’s only when you are confronted with having to actually do something about conference motions that you realize how much work is actually involved, which is why we spend some 2 hours discussing them – but that’s what we are there for!
On the report on TUC matters there was an interesting discussion on proposals to change the way annual congress is organised. TUC income is down, because affiliated unions membership is down so adjustments have to be made.
In October, the TUC’s executive committee considered a draft consultation paper for affiliated unions to consider options for changing the arrangements for annual congress.
Jeremy Dear explained that whilst there was no proposal to hold congress less frequently (unlike us) significant savings could be made by holding a smaller shorter (3 day) London based congress in alternate years (starting in 2011 – maybe). Each union would be entitled to a minimum of two delegates – which it is said would safeguard the position of smaller unions – although it was not clear just how many we would be entitled to at this stage (we elect three members of our delegation at our conference).
In the end the proposal was supported – nobody voted against, but I think the abstentions were in the majority! The TUC’s executive will consider the unions’ responses at their March meeting. No doubt some will see this model as a possible way forward of restoring our own annual delegate meetings, but that is yet to be seen!
That’s enough from the PC for now, but I’ll write more next week on some other items of interest that came up.