New members of the National Union of Journalists will pay fees based on how much they earn rather than how they earn it.
From July, new joiners earning up to £20,000 will pay £15 per month, those earning between £20,001 and £29,000 per annum will pay £18 per month, and journalist earning more than £29,000 will pay £25 per month.
Currently membership rates are divided into three grades:
Grade 1 – Provincial newspapers, books, magazines outside London, independent local radio and those employed outside the UK and the Irish Republic – £15 a month
Grade 2 – Press and public relations, magazines and advertising copywriters – £18 a month
- Grade 3 – National newspapers, news agencies and broadcasting – £25 a month.
The new subscription levels were agreed at the union’s delegate meeting.
Existing members can continue to have their union payments based on their current industrial sectors. Minimum and discounted membership grades will remain unchanged.
Barry McCall, chair of the NEC’s finance committee, said it was no longer possible to assume that journalists working in one sector earned more than those working in another.
But speakers at the conference who were against the new system said that while there was a need to change the union’s subscription system, the earnings alternative was also unfair as it stood.
Union leaders argued that the existing payment model was out of date and a deterrent to organisation and recruitment. They said it disadvantaged members who work part-time, particularly in national newspapers, news agencies and broadcasting.
The move aims to iron out the inequality in current sectors, where individuals in the same workplace might earn significantly differing salaries but pay the same union subs. This particularly affects new starters and is an added barrier to strong recruitment, it was argued.
An NUJ spokeperson said: "The minimum rate of £10 per month for members earning up to £13,600 remains in place as does the 1 per cent which states that no member should pay more than 1 per cent of their earnings in subs if they don’t want to.
"The new earnings-related rates apply to all new joiners and existing members who wish to move onto one. Existing members will not be compelled to move onto the earnings related structure.
"We anticipate the new structure having a neutral impact on our subscriptions income but over time believe it will aid recruitment and retention as it is a much more fair system than one which set subs according to how and where members earned their living rather than on how much they earned."
This year’s delegate meeting took place at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre on 15-17 April.