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Last Friday’s NEC meeting was Jeremy Dear’s last as general secretary, but before we got down to the farewells (which continued at his and his partner, Paula’s leaving party later that evening) there was a stack of business to get through.

First item was to draw up a shortlist of candidates for the post of deputy general secretary. It did not take long and the following were shortlisted. They are head of NUJ publishing department, Barry Fitzpatrick, Calderdale branch member, Helen Gavaghan and Birmingham and Coventry branch member, Chris Youett. Ballot papers will go out to members on 30 August and the ballot closes on 13 October. The result will be reported to the NEC on 14 October for ratification. We were also were given the election timetable for the National Executive Council elections. Deadline for nominations by branches is 31 August with ballot papers being dispatched to members by 28 September. The ballot closes on 28 October with results to the NUJ on 31 October.

Other decisions in brief: The next meeting will consider the budget for the year 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012. It will be drawn up by the union’s finance committee at its September meeting. Some serious decisions will have to be made about the budget given the financial pressures on the union; We had an update on the process for dealing with all motions passed at this year’s delegate meeting, all are either being considered by NEC sub committees ( Finance, Policy or Development) or other union committees; NUJ member Charles Atangana has won his appeal against Home Office plans to deport him, and written confirmation was received earlier this week – details on the NUJ web site, a great success for the union and Charles; A strike ballot had been held at the BBC against compulsory redundancies – it has been subsequently reported that  BBC members voted 72 per cent in favour of strike action and 87 per cent in favour of action short of a strike; the NEC agreed to support a motion of support for the Bradley Manning campaign and circulate details of its activities, members of the NUJ parliamentary group will also be asked to support it; Members at South Yorkshire Newspapers were voting on strike action in response to threatened editorial redundancies, these latest threatened cuts including redundancies across South Yorkshire Newspapers, part of the Johnston Press, would cause particular damage to the weekly South Yorkshire Times title at its office in Mexborough (it has been subsequently reported that they voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action); John McDonnell MP, secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group, gave us his parliamentary report and told us that Labour MPs had been told by Milliband’s office to cross picket lines on 30 June – the day of action against cuts and attacks on our pensions.

Finally, the union paid tribute to Jeremy Dear after a decade at the helm of the NUJ. Under his leadership the NUJ has survived as a fighting union, punching well above its weight; it is recognised across the movement as proof that small, specialist unions can work and contribute to the collective strength of organised labour.

Michelle Stanistreet, the new NUJ general secretary said: “Jeremy is a one off. He has shown passion, enthusiasm and commitment to the NUJ in his ten years leading our union. His legacy is an NUJ that is a true campaigning and organising union, a dedicated voice for journalists and journalism. We all wish Jeremy and Paula the very best for the future. They will always remain part of the NUJ family.”

Donnacha DeLong, NUJ President said: “My first Delegate Meeting was Jeremy’s first as general secretary, so, for me, he has been a defining part of my experience in the union beyond my workplace. He’s done so much to modernise and energise the union, his departure is going to be felt at every level. It challenges all of us in the NUJ to continue and build on that work to ensure a bright future for the union and all our members.”

Anita Halpin, NUJ Treasurer said: “Jeremy is a trade unionist who has successfully made the move from ‘militant trouble maker’ to trade union leader without ditching his principles or forgetting the harsh realities of the workplace. This gives him the breadth of vision to relate to all our members across the union. He will be missed.”

Jim Boumelha, NEC members and president of the International Federation of Journalists president said: “Jeremy has bequeathed to us a formidable legacy – a strong and independent NUJ well equipped to survive the biggest crisis in the history of journalism. His commitment to the union and extraordinary personal contribution will be remembered by many generations of journalists.”

And just before 7.00pm the meeting closed.