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Dudley General Branch Rules

Branch Rules, Rules for the Conduct of Branch Elections and
Standing Orders
Agreed at the 2016 Branch AGM with effect from 23rd February 2016

1. Branch Name

The name of the Branch is the Dudley General Branch of Unison.

2. Relationship to National Organisation

(a) The Branch shall act in accordance with national rules, decisions of the Annual Delegate Conference and decisions of the National Branch Council.

(b) If there is a conflict between Branch Rules and the National Rules, the national rules shall take precedence.

(c) A copy of both the National rules and the Branch rules shall be issued to all members when joining and on request.

3. Aims and Objects of the Branch

(a) To organise all those working in Dudley MBC other than teachers, or for employers based in Dudley, employed directly or indirectly, within those areas of employment which provide services to the public, whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors of the economy.

(b) To seek to ensure equality of treatment and fair representation for all members and to work for the elimination of discrimination on grounds of race, gender, gender identification sexuality, disability, age or creed.

(c) To seek to protect the rights of all members to be treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of race, gender, , sexuality, disability, age or creed.

(d) To improve the pay and conditions of members and promote their interests.

(e) To support the provision of cultural, educational, leisure, social and sporting activities to members and their families.

(f) To establish good relations between members and their employers, to secure the settlement of disputes arising from members' employment, and to participate in joint negotiating machinery.

(g) To work to achieve equal access to public services for all and to ensure that all users of public services are treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, disability, age or creed.

(h) To promote greater employee, consumer and user involvement and representation in the delivery of public services, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, disability, age or creed.

(i) To work with all other interested parties, individuals and organisations to maintain and improve the quality of services to the public.

(j) To liaise with all levels of government on public services and related matters and to promote and monitor legislation for the benefit of members and the public.

(k) To promote, safeguard and improve the interests and status of members and the Branch as a whole.

(l) To promote and establish a member-led union and to carry out and fulfil decisions made by members in a spirit of unity and accountability.

(m) To promote fair representation in all the Branch's structures for women, members of all grades, black members, disabled members and lesbians and gay men.

(n) To encourage solidarity and an effective working partnership between members, activists, representatives, officers, and all staff in the service of the Branch and its agreed policies.

(o) To promote and safeguard the rights of members to have an adequate opportunity to participate in the initiation and development of policy making, through meetings, conferences, delegations or ballots, and to encourage the maximum democratic debate, together with the right to campaign to change policy, while at all times acting within the rules and the agreed policy.

(p) To foster good industrial relations with the branch's and the Union's employees through their trade unions, to encourage and maintain good employment practices and to promote equal opportunities for all employees irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, disability, age or creed.

(q) To do all such other lawful things as are necessary for the achievement of the aims and objects of the Branch.

4. Membership and Subscriptions

(a) Categories of Membership are as laid out in UNISON Rules, i.e. full members, honorary members, retired members, student members, unemployed members. A Retired Members' Section shall be established with full resources and administrative support, as decided by the Branch Committee and Branch Meetings.

(b) Applicants for membership shall be deemed accepted unless not approved by the vote of a majority at a meeting of the Branch Committee, or a General Meeting of the Branch. The decision not to support a membership application must be consistent with the Rules and with Statute. Any applicant whose membership is declined must be given the reason in writing and has a right of appeal in accordance with national rules.

(c) Members' subscriptions will be deducted from salary, or be paid by Direct Debit or by Standing Order. Where subscriptions due are unpaid, the Branch shall take all possible steps to secure payment.

(d) The Branch may terminate the membership of any person whose subscription is at least three months' in arrears, or of any person from whom a sum is due and has been unpaid for three months. That person will remain liable for payment. The person may be allowed to resume membership subject to the discretion of the Branch regarding payments still owed.

(e) The rights, privileges, liabilities and benefits of membership will not be transferable.

5. Discipline

All members must comply with the Rules. A member who, in the reasonable opinion of the Branch Committee, disregards, disobeys, or violates any of these Rules, or any national Rule or Regulation or Instruction issued in accordance with the Rules, or is guilty of conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the interests of the Union, of commits any deliberate sexist or racist act, or misappropriates money or property of the Union, or attempts to defraud the Union in any way, shall be liable to expulsion or suspension in accordance with National Rules I. An investigation by two persons elected by the Branch Committee should be carried out and a decision made whether there is a case to answer.

This decision should be reported to the Branch Committee and if the charge appears valid, then a meeting of the Branch Disciplinary Sub-Committee will be convened and the member invited to attend. Procedures for disciplinary action are laid out in National Rules, Schedule D. If the member charged is a member of the Branch Committee, then the charges will be heard directly by a disciplinary sub-committee of the NEC. The member has a right of appeal to the NEC.

The NEC may terminate an individual membership in accordance with the Rules.

6. Annual General Meetings

There will be an Annual General Meeting of the Branch, held during February/March.  The quorum shall be 50. Not less than 90 days notice of an Annual General Meeting shall be given to each member (for special general meetings, see below). Any member may submit a motion to a general meeting to arrive for the Branch Secretary- Membership Services and Admin not less than 60 days prior to the date of the AGM.  No motions may be moved from the floor, except an Emergency Motion which must be accepted onto the agenda by both the Chairperson and the meeting at the start of the meeting.

7. Ordinary General Meetings and Special General Meetings

The Branch shall hold an Ordinary General Meeting in September of each year. The date shall be notified to members as soon after the AGM as is possible. The Quorum shall be 50.

A special general meeting may be called if requested by the Branch Committee, or if requested, in writing, by at least 50 members of the Branch, stating the reason for the meeting. The special meeting should be called within 21 days of either request. The Quorum shall be 50.

8. Branch Officers

The Branch will have the following Officers:

  • Branch Chairperson
  • Branch Vice Chairperson
  • Branch Secretary - Service Conditions
  • Branch Secretary – Membership Services & Administration (including Sports & Social)
  • Branch Treasurer
  • Branch Health and Safety Officer
  • Branch Equality Officer
  • Branch Development Officer (Including Education and Publicity)
  • Branch International Officer
  • Branch Welfare Officer
  • Branch Young Members Officers
  • Two Branch Auditors

The Branch Committee shall establish in line with the national recommendations job descriptions for all Branch Officer positions.

Nominations for Officers shall be made to the Branch Secretary Membership Services & Admin not less than 60 days prior to the date of the AGM.

Elections of Branch Officers and Stewards shall be by postal exhaustive ballot. (See Appendix 1).

The Branch Committee shall have the power to fill any causal officer vacancies which arise during the year except for those of Branch Chair or either of the Branch Secretaries. In the case of these officers nominations must be sought from the membership in the normal way, except that if the vacancy arises within 120 days of a future AGM the Branch Committee may decide to hold the post in abeyance.

9. The Branch Committee

The business of the Branch will be conducted during the year by the Branch Committee, in accordance with National Rules and Guidance.

(i) The Branch Committee will consist of:

(a) All Branch Officers.

(b) All Stewards.

(c) Two representatives of the Retired Members Group, The Young Members Group and each self organised group.

(d) Any member elected to the NEC.             .

(ii) The Branch Committee will be called as often as necessary and not less than ten times per year.

(iii) The Branch Committee shall establish sub committees as required.

(iv) The quorum of the Branch Committee shall be twelve.

(v) The Branch Committee will receive reports from Sub-Committees, Branch Secretary, Branch Treasurer, Stewards Groups, Trades Councils, and other bodies, as appropriate.

(vi) The Branch Committee will consider and deal with all matters of ordinary current administration affecting the interests of the members of the Branch.

(vii) The Branch Committee will elect, nominate, or otherwise fill, vacancies on bodies at Branch, Regional or National level, as required.

(viiii) Any member of the Branch may attend meetings of the Branch Committee in an "observer" capacity. They may speak at the discretion of the Chairperson.

10. Departmental Stewards & Stewards' Committees

(i) Stewards will be nominated and elected on a workgroup and departmental basis, and within that group on the approximate basis of one steward per workplace or one steward per 25 members within each workplace depending on size of workplace. The nomination and election of stewards will occur during the notice period for the A.G.M. when the Branch Secretary will circulate a notice inviting nominations for Stewards, who should be proposed and seconded from within their constituency. Where the number of nominations exceeds the permitted number of stewards, there will be a ballot within that constituency. Stewards may be elected at any other point during the year, as and when vacancies arise.

(ii) Stewards Committees shall be established in each distinct local authority department or directorate and in each employer as determined by the Branch Committee. Each Committee shall abide by branch and national policy and submit the minutes of their meetings to the Branch Committee for approval. They may establish sub committees and working groups as required at the discretion of the Branch Committee.

11. Expenses

Expenses shall be paid to members of the Branch for carrying out Union duties, as determined from time to time by the Branch Committee.

12. Finances

(i) Through any two authorised signatories the Branch may draw, make, accept, endorse, discount, execute and issue promissory notes, bills, cheques and other instruments, and operate bank accounts in the name of the branch.

(ii) The Branch may collect subscriptions locally on behalf of the national body.

(iii) The Branch Treasurer shall conduct the Branch's financial business and maintain the accounts within UNISON Rules; shall provide reports on the financial position to the Branch, as appropriate; shall advise Branch Officers and the Branch Sub-Committees with regard to financial management and expenditure; shall provide for an audited annual return and statement of accounts for submission in accordance with the national rules and timetables and shall act in accordance with the direction of the Branch Committee.

(iv) The Branch treasurer shall ensure appropriate insurance is in place to comply with legal requirements and in accordance with Unison guidance.

(v) The Branch may pay honoraria agreed by the AGM.

13. Auditors

The auditors shall act in accordance with the general principles of UNISON, and the Guidance for Branch Auditors, in order to conduct an efficient Branch Audit.

14. Affiliations

The Branch may affiliate to appropriate Trades Councils, and other such bodies as the A.G.M. may sanction. Affiliation to a particular body will cease should a motion to that effect be passed by a simple majority at an A.G.M. Affiliation to a relevant constituency Labour Party shall be decided by the A.P.F. membership alone.

15. Donations

The Branch may make donations to other organisations or bodies providing that such donations are in accordance with the Branch's aims and objects and national rules.

16. Alteration of Rules

Amendments to these Rules, including the appendixes, require a two-thirds majority at a quorate Annual General Meeting. Branch Rules and alterations to them must be approved in accordance with Unison procedures and ratified by the NEC.

17. Standing Orders

The Branch shall establish standing orders for the conduct of the Branch Committee.


Appendix One - Rules for the Conduct of Branch Elections

1-     At it’s first meeting following the AGM the Branch Committee shall appoint a retired member of the branch to be the Branch Returning Officer.

2-     The Branch Returning Officer shall be responsible for the conduct of the elections for Branch Officers and Stewards

3-     During the period of an election the Branch Returning Officer shall liaise with the Officer Manager about the administration of the ballot.

4-     Where an election is contested each candidate covered by item2 shall be entitled to have an election address of not more than 500 words published by the branch at no cost to the candidate. The Branch Returning Officer shall set a timetable for the submission of election addresses which shall be distributed to members with the ballot papers.

5-     The content of election addresses shall be subject to the approval of the Branch Returning Officers.

6-     Any other material produced by a candidate or group of candidates or a member or members in support of a candidate or candidates must make no use of branch resources or the resources of the employer, even when these resources are charged for.

7-     Any other material produced by a candidate, a group of candidates or a member or members in support of a candidate or candidates shall be subject to Unison’s Rules and Procedures.

8-    Any breach of these rules will result in the matter being passed to UNISON's Regional Secretary for potential referral to the NEC under Rule I of UNISON's rules governing disciplinary issue.

Appendix Two - Dudley General UNISON Standing Order for Branch Meetings and Branch Committees Meetings

1. Branch Meetings shall be held in accordance with Branch Rule 9.

2. The Branch Chair or Vice Branch Chair elected according to Branch Rule 8 shall preside at the meeting. If neither is present the meeting shall elect an acting Chairperson from those present.

3. The Chair's ruling on questions of procedure and order shall be final.

4. Branch Meetings shall be summoned by notices stating the business of the meeting then apparent to be distributed to all stewards and officers seven days before the date of the meeting. The calling notice shall also be posted on the Branch Website.

5. A meeting shall first conduct the business stated on the notice of the meeting. Other business shall be admitted to the agenda with the agreement of the Chair.

6. Movers of motions or amendments shall speak for up to five minutes; seconders of motions or amendments for up to four minutes; other members for up to three minutes, except with the permission of the Chair.

7. The mover of a motion, or the mover of an amendment which is carried, shall have a right of reply. Otherwise no person shall speak more than once during a debate, except with the permission of the Chair, or to raise a point of order, or to answer a question.

8. The following points of order may be moved at any time without notice, and shall be immediately put to the meeting without debate:

i) that the meeting proceed to the next business;

ii) that the question be now put;

iii) that a speaker be not heard;

9. At its first meeting following the AGM the Branch Committee shall elect the following sub committees,

i- Finance & General Purposes

The Finance & General Purposes Sub Committee shall consist of the Branch Chair, Branch Vice Chair (who shall chair the meeting), The Branch Secretaries, Branch Treasurers and three members elected from the Branch Committee at least two of whom shall be women

The Finance & General Purposes Sub Committee shall:

a- Act in matters of urgency and in place of the Branch Committee if that body is or becomes inquorate.

b- Receive reports from the Branch Secretary Membership Services & Admin on the Branch Office Staff and the operation of the Branch Office and make decisions accordingly

c- Receive Reports from the Branch Treasurer on the Branch Finances and make decisions accordingly.

c- Authorise non routine items of expenditure between £1,000 and £5,000. Expenditure of below £1,000 shall be at the Treasurer’s discretion. Expenditure in excess of £5,000 shall require the approval of the Branch Committee.

d- Deal with such other matters as the Branch Committee shall refer to it.

e- Meet at least six times a year.

f- Submit the minutes of it’s meetings to the Branch Committee for information.

ii- Staff Appeals

The Staff Appeals Sub Committee shall consist of three members elected from the Branch Committee who are not members of the Finance and General Purposes Sub Committee, at least two of whom shall be women.

The Staff Appeals Sub Committee shall,

a- Elect a Chair at its first meeting following the AGM.and meet as is necessary.

b- Hear with all matters of grievance and appeal from members of the Branch Staff and make decisions accordingly.

c- Its minutes shall remain confidential except that its decisions shall be made available to the relevant Branch Officers or members of staff.

iii- Branch Development & Welfare Sub Committee

The Branch Development and Welfare Sub Committee shall consist of the Branch Development Officer, the Branch Welfare Officer, Branch Treasurer, Branch Young Persons Officer and three members elected from the Branch Committee, at least two of whom shall be women.

The Branch Chair, Vice Chair and Branch Secretaries shall be entitled to attend, speak but not vote.

The Branch Development & Welfare Sub Committee shall,

a- Elect a Chairperson at its first meeting following the AGM and meet as is necessary.

b- On the recommendation of the Branch Development Officer authorise up to £500 per member and per course on Trade Union Education. Payments over £500 shall require approval of the Branch Committee except where otherwise provided for in the branch rules.

c- On the recommendation of the Branch Welfare Officer authorise up to £500 per member on Welfare provision with a maximum of £1,000 for any member in one year.

d- Deal with matters relating to young members and international issues and spend up to £250 per item, excluding donations which shall only be made by the Branch Committee or Branch Meeting in accordance with Branch Rule 19. Payments over £250 shall require approval of the Branch Committee.

e- Submit the Minutes of it’s meetings to the Branch Committee for information. The names of welfare recipients shall remain confidential to the members of the sub committee and the Branch Auditors.

iv- Branch Health and Safety Sub Committee

The Branch Health and Safety Sub Committee shall consist of the Branch Health and Safety Officer, who shall chair the meeting, and all branch Health and Safety representatives.

The Branch Chairperson, Branch Secretaries and Branch Treasurer shall be entitled to attend the meeting, speak and vote.

a- The Sub Committee shall consider all matters relating to the Health and Safety of members and make decisions and recommendations as appropriate.

b- Meet at least four times a year.

c-  Submit its minutes to the Branch Committee for information.

10. Minutes of the Branch Committee, Finance and General Purposes Sub Committee,  Branch Development and Welfare Sub Committee and Branch Health and Safety Sub Committee shall be posted on the Branch Website for at least one year after they have been submitted to the relevant Branch Committee.

11. Changes to these standing orders can only be made at the Annual General Meeting of the Branch with the agreement of two thirds of those present and voting.

12. Meetings will last no longer than two hours. Meetings can be extended by no more than 15 minutes by moving standing orders, provided that this is agreed by 50% of those present and entitled to vote.