Sunday, 8 July 2007


I’ve just heard what happened at the National Executive meeting on Friday – and I think it is cause for celebration. Unsurprisingly, the NEC said the rulebook did not allow a ballot on the boycott – but it then said that the boycott just isn’t going to happen because the TUC does not support it.

The motion passed unanimously by the NEC makes clear that the boycott call at ADM was aimed at persuading the TUC to implement the policy – and that has failed:

“Composite B calls not for an NUJ boycott but on the NUJ to support a labour movement/TUC organised boycott. In implementing Composite B the NUJ has sent the motion to the TUC. NEC notes the response from the TUC International Department setting out the TUC and the majority of affiliates' position on the boycott, in particular, that the "General Council is likely to take the position that this is not a priority for the PGFTU (in Palestine), still less the Histadrut, and would undermine our ability to act as go-betweens", and that "Congress, which has consistently supported the same approach, would also be (likely) to oppose the call".
NEC believes the latter from the TUC gives a decisive and final response to any call made by the NUJ to the labour movement as instructed by ADM.”

And here is the key phrase:
“NEC will take no further action on implementing this boycott call.”

In other words, the boycott is a dead duck.

This has only happened because more than 400 NUJ members at branches and chapels across Britain and Ireland made their voices heard – through branch and chapel meetings and petitions. I think we can be proud of what we have achieved.

I’ve also learnt that 31 people notified the union that they had resigned over the boycott policy. I know a number of us had discussed resigning if the boycott stayed in place. I have now decided that I will be staying in the union – and I would encourage others to stay and work towards making it more responsive to the views of the wider membership.


martincloake said...

It's encouraging to see a little happiness. As has been pointed out before, as no boycott was in place, or even planned, arguments over whether or not to support it were rather ahead of themselves. I think it is worth reading the quote from the NEC motion in full, rather just just the line identified as "key".

Of course, the discussion at NEC would - I imagine - have been influenced by the heated debate around this issue, but it's simply not true to say the decision "only" happened because of this debate. The NEC has to look at all motions passed and decide how to proceed, and this would have happened with or without the debate that's happened.
It's a strange view of democracy that says you'll only stay in a organisation if it does what you agree with all the time, but I'm very pleased you are maintaining your NUJ membership. Could I ask if the admirable energies expended on this campaign will now be directed towards bringing those 31 members who have resigned back into membership? And then into building support for the Stand Up For Journalism day on Nov 5th? After all, the NUJ has shown itself to be democratic, and this is an industrial issue.
I'm sure everyone who has contributed to this blog would share those views.

Donnacha DeLong said...

When the motion was passed, the first thing I said was - that's fine, there'll be noise but, as the TUC isn't likely to start a boycott, there's nothing to support. I was right. I voted in favour of the NEC motion (clearly as it was unanimous) and Rory's dissembling had nothing to do with it. I'd have voted for it, because it states the simple fact that we've done what we were instructed and outlines our general position accurately. Sorry Rory, but you can crow all you like, but you didn't have the impact you might think you had. I'd like to repeat the last bit of the NEC motion:

"NEC recalls that nine previous motions on Israel/Palestine since 1987 have focused on issues concerning journalists, their social and working conditions and their welfare.

NEC reaffirms our responsibility towards our sister unions in the Middle east and our sister union in Palestine and resolves to give priority to our participation in the work of the IFJ to strengthen the PJS to help them deal with the day-to-day problems of journalists and their families, in particular their safety.

NEC also reaffirms to continue our past efforts to engage our sister union in Israel, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists and instructs the General Secretary to continue to seek to cooperate with them on issues of common interest."

martinshankleman said...

Martin Shankleman writes.
This news is wonderful. The Union has made as elegant a climbdown as possible, by choosing to interpret the ADM motion in a curious way, which I'm sure will be open to debate, but I'm not complaining.
From our point of view we have achieved all we could have dreamt of. The campaign was called "Stop the NUJ Boycott". The 500 plus who signed our petitions ensured we have achieved just that. The boycott has been stopped. Job done.

Anonymous said...

Well done Rory. Of course, Jeremy and the rest would have allowed the boycott if there hadn't been a fuss. He's to be applauded for listening.
Charlie Beckett

martincloake said...

I would seem some people are choosing to continue living in their dreamworld and not respond to the questions about positive contributions in future.

Anonymous said...

I hope someone is going to answer the two questions in the penultimate paragraph of Martin Cloake's post, re getting involved in wider union activism rather than this one issue.

And I agree entirely with what Donnecha says. I sometimes wonder how many people have actually read both the original motion and the NEC one.

Tom Davies