Contribution by Robbie Segal
As part of my candidature for General Secretary, I am launching a discussion on democracy in Usdaw.
This manifesto to democratise Usdaw is not a completed document and, I would appreciate your comments or changes to the way the Union works. If you want to participate in the debate then please contact me at either Robbie@robbiesegal.com. or on my blog
General Secretary Election
As you are most probably aware the letter informing the branches that the General Secretary Election had been called was sent out with an endorsement for John Hannett, the current general secretary. Although individual EC members were asked point blank (I believe that this was intimidating and never gave members the chance to reflect on the question} whether they supported the General Secretary. More importantly no written motion was presented to the meeting and therefore to consider this as an EC endorsement of John Hannett is wrong.
I consider the distributing the endorsement of John Hannett on the same circular that informed branches of the election was a major infringement of the democratic traditions of the trade unions.
I will be proposing that the timing of the any future General Secretary elections will be governed by Rule and not on the whim of the incumbent general secretary. Further the conduct of the election will be decided by guidelines that will be presented to the ADM for endorsement.
Rule 11, Section 1:
The General Secretary shall be elected by a national vote of members by way of a statutory postal ballot as prescribed by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidations) Act 1992. All branches shall have the right to make nominations. She/he shall remain in office during the will and pleasure of the members who, through the Annual or Special Delegate Meetings, have power to dismiss or call upon her/him to resign.
The EC meets once a month and the meetings last about 2 hours. This time is not adequate to ensure the role of the EC is fulfilled under rule.
Rule 9, section 10:
The Executive Council shall have full control of the business of the Union, and shall have power to do anything not inconsistent with these Rules or the Acts of Parliament under which the Union is certified as an independent trade Union. In the event of any questions arising on which the Rules are silent or obscure, the Executive Council shall have the power to decide thereon.
Minutes of the Executive Council
The minutes circulated to the branches are considered by many members as a joke. A proposition at the 1999 ADM was passed which stated:
I will implement the proposition and ensure that the branches can understand the workings and decisions of the EC. I will publish an account of the major decisions in Arena.
Rule 11, Section 4:
The General Secretary shall be in attendance at all Delegate Meetings and meetings of the Executive Council, and shall keep a correct account of the minutes of the proceedings.
Add at the end of the paragraph, ‘The General Secretary shall provide for publication in Arena a summary of the decisions of Executive Council meetings.’
Control of employment issues
This is interpreted as being that it is the provocative of the general secretary to deal with all employment matters. The Union has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants and the Leap Project. The EC have never had a full report or updates on the spending of this money or the recent Leap Project developments.
Rule 11, Section 15:
The General Secretary shall superintend and direct the work of all employees of the Union.
Add at the end of the paragraph, ‘the General Secretary will make a full written report on all employment matters to the Executive Council every three months.’
Serving on outside organisations
Rule 11, Section 3:
The General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary shall devote their whole time to the work of the Union, and shall not be eligible to be a Parliamentary Candidate to the United Kingdom, European or Scottish Parliaments or a candidate for the election to the Welsh Assembly whilst continuing on office as General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary.
Add New Rule 11, Section 4.
‘The General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary shall seek permission from the Executive Council to serve on all outside organisations, and any remuneration other than expenses shall be paid to the Union.’
Renumber all subsequent Sections.