The branch is one of the key structures of the union: it is where members can regularly have their say on the union’s policies and activities. It is the branches rather than the chapels (workplace groups) that elect delegates and send motions to the union’s annual conference.
It is also the branches that hold a proportion of members’ subs: this money is used to finance the activities of chapels and anything else the branch decides to spend it on. For instance, if you want to organise a meeting for colleagues at your workplace the branch will pay for room hire, refreshments, leaflets, etc.
London Magazine Branch sometimes organises training sessions – and socials – in lieu of its regular branch meeting.
We also read out a list of new members and their workplaces at each meeting. This gives a useful guide to where we are recruiting most heavily at any given time. It is often also a hint about where employers’ action are worrying people.
Two of the major functions of the branch are assisting workplace groups (chapels in NUJ-speak) where we can, and keeping everyone informed about what is going on around our sector. This is where we find out about the state of negotiations over pay and conditions at various employers. But you don’t need to be part of an organised chapel to bring along any problems and issues you have.
One of the full-time officials who cover the magazine sector usually attend the branch meeting, and report on the disputes and negotiations they have been handling. We can also hear from the branch’s delegates to other union bodies if they have had a meeting recently.
We encourage members to submit motions in time for them to go in the edition of Maglight publicising the meeting. Some motions have to be published in advance: basically, any motion that requests the branch to spend money on a campaign that is not directly related to trade union activity, or any motion that is to be sent to the NUJ’s annual conference.
Any other motion, including those that ask for money to be given to an NUJ branch or to another union, can be presented on the night of the meeting. What is always helpful is to bring along 20 or so copies of your motion if is not going to appear in Maglight.