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Branch Consultation On Divisional Council Mini-Conferences - Results Of Survey

29 September 2014

The EC Report on TSSA Strategic Plan, Item 7, adopted by conference this year included, amongst other things, that “the EC shall consult with Branches over the procedures for agreeing delegates, motions and amendments for Conference and the outcome of this process would be put to a vote of Branches and a two-thirds majority will be required prior to implementation. In the event that there is no agreement following consultation and a vote about the new procedures, the status quo will prevail.”

To comply with this the EC undertook a consultation with Branches, Divisional Councils and SOGs. By the closing date of Wednesday 10th September, a total of 44 responses had been received which breaks down into:
•    38 Branches
•    5 Divisional Councils
•    1 SOG

Download a PDF of the   Branch Consultation Results


Consultation Results

The actual results of the survey are as follows:
1.    Do you agree that Branch delegates to the Divisional Council mini-conferences should be as per current rule 10(b)

Yes = 39     No = 5

2    Should all reps within the Division be invited to attend the mini conference?

Yes = 24     No = 19        (1 Abstention)

3    If Yes then should those reps have speaking rights?

Yes = 25    No = 18    (1 Abstention)

4    If Yes then should the EC further explore giving those reps voting rights?

Yes = 17    No = 27

5    Should Branches be restricted to putting forward names of candidates seeking selection as conference delegates from members within their Branch who are delegates to Divisional Council?

Yes = 16    No = 28

6    How many motions should each Branch be allowed to submit to the Divisional Council mini-conference? Motions from the division will be calculated on the basis of two for every 400 members or part thereof.

1 = 1        2 = 30

more than 2 please specify;

Majority for 2 but 12 responses suggesting other ideas including 9 suggesting more than 2

7    How many amendments should each Branch be allowed to submit to the Divisional Council mini-conference? Amendments from the division will be calculated on the basis of two for every 400 members or part thereof.

1 = 1         2 = 31
more than 2 please specify number or ratio to branch membership;
Majority for 2 but 8 respondents suggested more than 2 (not included in the 29). 

8    How many candidates seeking selection to be a conference delegate should each Branch be allowed to submit to the Divisional Council mini-conference? Delegates from the division will be calculated on the basis of one for every 400 members or part thereof plus one under 26 years of age.

1 = 6        2 = 28
more than 2 please specify;
Majority for 2 but 7 respondents suggested more than 2 (not included in the 28). 

9.    If each Branch is allowed to submit more than one candidate seeking selection to become a conference delegate should at least one nominee be a woman?

Yes = 18    No = 26

10.    Where a Divisional Council has more delegates than the total number of Branches within it, should the number of delegates attending conference be at least one from each Branch provided someone stands from each Branch and that gender proportionality is maintained?

Yes = 28    No = 14    

11.    Where a Divisional Council has less delegates than the total number of Branches within it, should there be a cap on the number of delegates from each Branch provided someone stands from each Branch and that gender proportionality is maintained?

Yes = 24    No = 18

12.    Where a Divisional Council is entitled to submit more motions than the total number of Branches within it, should every Branch at least have one of their motions submitted to conference provided they put at least one forward and this has the support of the mini conference?

Yes = 33     No = 9        (2 Abstentions)

13.    If a Divisional Council is entitled to send more motions than are submitted by branches should it be able to top up to the allowed number?

Yes = 30    No = 13    (1 Abstention)

14.    Where a Divisional Council is entitled to submit less motions than the total number of Branches within it, should no more than one motion of those submitted by any Branch be submitted to conference?

Yes = 16    No = 24    (4 Abstentions)

15.    Should Divisional Councils be encouraged to include within their Standing Orders for the election of delegations criteria to ensure that groups of members who have traditionally been under-represented at Conference are better represented?

Yes = 20    No = 24

If Yes then should this criteria include
    Ethnic minorities = 15
    Part and full rate members = 14
    Members from different industrial sectors = 14
Others (if so state which)

16.    Should the Executive Committee issue standing orders/guidance on how mini-conferences should be conducted

Yes = 37    No = 6

17.    Should Divisional delegations be mandated to support all of the motions / amendments submitted from the Division to Annual Conference?

Yes = 24    No = 19

18.    Should the EC develop processes to allow Branches to contact each other regarding motions and amendments for their Divisional Conference?

Yes = 36    No = 7        (1 Abstention)

19.    Is there anything else that you would wish the Executive Committee to consider as part of the consultation?
Comments received:

•    RE: Q15: Traditional and unrepresented groups should be encouraged as Annual Conference delegates. However, these should include ethnic minorities, part and full rate members, members for different industrial sectors and the 8 characteristics protected within the 2010 single Equality Act. (NE Retired Members Branch)

•    RE: Q15: We consider the criteria should include traditionally under-represented groups who should be encouraged to attend as Conference delegates. However, these should include ethnic minorities, part and full rate members, members of different industrial sectors and the 8 characteristics protected within the 2010 single Equality Act.

Notes on Timeline: Date for meeting to discuss/agree motions was set within the Model Standing Orders & By-Laws issued by Steve Coe, AGS. When and how will training of Council Secretaries take place? Where will it take place? Much concern about the tight timelines especially in February/March to meet the closing date of 7th March 2015. (NE Divisional Council)

•    We are in agreement with the timeline proposed.

A. We would be concerned at costs if an additional Divisional Council meeting is required to complete annual conference business. Nor do we feel it is needed.

B. We found the questions extremely complex and difficult to understand. We did, however, come to a view and submitted these to a majority of our branch members. We did not receive one response.

C. In the EC Report on the Strategic Plan it refers to “review the duration of Annual Conference and the streamlining of Conference procedures through discussion with Branches, Divisional Councils and SOC. This is not contained in the questionnaire.
Unless a separate paper is produced, which we will respond to, here are our views:
1.    As the TSSA’s objective is to be viable then we have to ensure that Annual Conference meets all our democratic objectives within a timescale that is affordable but which also enables delegates and visitors to socialise.
2. We think the recent format of speech timings to be correct and the responses from the EC to debates should only be used when it is essential to assist the debate.
3. As far as possible all SOC work should be completed before Conference and new instructions, a new communication machinery (telephone numbers, emails and addresses) be introduced at Divisional  Council, SOG, branch and national level to ensure that this works smoothly.
4. Guest speakers to be limited to one as a general policy.
5. The working day should, ideally, start at 09.15 and end no later then 18.00 with a lunch break at 12.45 to 14.00
6. We have no strong views on which day Conference should start but if costs and timings are acceptable for the SOC to be during Saturday afternoon with Conference starting on Sunday morning and ending on Tuesday, that is fine.
However, we would like the EC to consider having a short session on Saturday afternoon to get Conference started, approving the early order papers, the President’s speech and some debate, but finishing no later than 18.00. If Conference can be completed on Monday night with appropriate cost savings, this would be even better.

This paper, and the Branch Officers’ views have been sent to the majority of our members. We have not received any views opposing the above.
(Anglia No1)


Council is strongly of the view that the essence of Rule 42(b) should be retained if, for example, there are no female nominees a male delegate can be accredited instead.
The EC Report on the Strategic Plan it refers to “review the duration of Annual Conference and the streamlining of Conference procedures through discussion with Branches, Divisional Councils and SOC. This is not contained in the questionnaire.
Unless a separate paper is produced, which we will respond to, here are our basic views:
1. As the TSSA’s objective is to be viable then we have to ensure that Annual Conference meets all our democratic objectives within a timescale that is affordable but which also enables delegates and visitors to socialise.
2. We think the recent format of speech timings to be correct and the responses from the EC to debates should only be used when it is essential to assist the debate.
3. As far as possible all SOC work should be completed before Conference and new instructions, a new communication machinery (telephone numbers, emails and addresses) be introduced at Divisional  Council, SOG, branch and national level to ensure that this works smoothly.
4. Guest speakers to be limited to one as a general policy.
5. The working day should, ideally, start at 09.15 and end no later then 18.00 with a lunch break at 12.45 to 14.00    (Anglia & North East Divisional Council)


•    Some members of the branch questioned the validity of the consultation on the grounds that Divisional Council Mini-conferences were never mentioned or discussed at the recent Annual Conference; however, the majority of branch members present did not accept this view and felt that the branch should respond to the consultation.   
•    The branch considers that some of the questions on the consultation paper are either loaded or ambiguous, and that further clarification was needed. (Crewe & Cheshire General Branch)


•    As presented the proposals do nothing to encourage retired members to be in a Retired Members’ Branch, or remain in membership. (Midlands Retired Branch)


1. See comment on Qu 9, 10, 11 re Rule 42(b) “where both can be men”
2. How will the cost of mini-conferences be met should there be a requirement for overnight accommodation to deal with large numbers of motions submitted by branches?                                              
3. There is nothing in this consultation document regards the length of annual conference.       (Yorkshire North 433)


Please make the questions clear, accurate and to the point. (Lancs & Cumbria General)


How frequent are these [mini conferences] to be held and are they a substitute for current conference? (Wessex (195))


We think the timelines maybe rather tight and possibly not achievable. Consider using email to electronically submit motions to Conference. (Yorkshire No1 TOC)


Timelines are very tight but achievable as long as everyone pulls together to arrange timely meetings. 
[On training for DC Secretaries] – Hopefully this will take place at a weekend as release from work will be difficult  (Arriva Trains Wales (South) 887)


1.Clause in Rule 42 should remain allowing male delegates to be accredited where no woman is prepared to be nominated to fill a "quota;"   
2. Extra costs will be incurred by Councils meeting in March to deal with amendmets - there should be provision for this to be by an F&GP Committee or in corespondence with the Branches. (Anglia No2)

Is there a B Plan if we don't reach the necessary yes vote? (London North west General (141))

Please put any further questionnaires in plain English and easy to understand.  (450 LU Ops Managers)

Medway's meeting is during first week in December, therefore won't be able to comply X [against "Branches meet during November…"].  (Medway (163))

We agree as a Branch to this survey as long as we continue to be a democratic union.  (North East Scotland General 325)

The riders in Q's 10 & 11 about "gender proportionality" should be excluded from the final guidelines - they are not relevant to the particular questions. Delegates should be selected on merit only. (Paddington & Thames Valley (147))

Branch is concerned that an additional Conference will add to costs - properly run divisional council meetings will put (?) significantly to current costs and branch delegation report back to own branches. Distances to travel may preclude some branches from attending if overnight stay required (eg, start before 10am) (Anglia No3) 

Review process - what options/mechanism for change if this is found not to work. We are concerned, as a small branch, that we might be swamped. (ATOC (100))

We are concerned that the length of Conference does not appear to been taken note at Leeds - that the length be reviewed. This Branch is concerned that the experience of SOC & Conference itself was too rushed. We don't understand why this consultation is described as a "Divisional Council Mini-Conference!" (London Bus Operators (467))

Ensure greater proportionality according to branch size. (South Eastern (Kent) (641))

We aspire to electronic voting for all members at Conference. (Midlands Divisional Council)

This branch specifically requested that their preamble and answers to questions 6 and 7 be considered in response to Question 19:
1.    Preamble
We would like to express our disappointment with this consultation. We feel it does not consider all the options and carries assumptions that should be questioned to ensure the eventual approach is as effective as possible.
We are particularly concerned that it does not encompass the engagement that the EC committed to regarding the duration of Conference. We understand that the EC have committed to Saturday-Monday Conferences for 2015 and 2016, without discussion with Branches or Divisional Councils. This directly contradicts the commitment in point (iii) of the EC Report and we know this decision is against the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
We have identified at least two options for decision-making that have not been considered:
* Allowing all members in a division to participate in the debate and voting to decide motions, amendments and delegates. This would mitigate the concern, expressed passionately at Conference, that the changes would put an additional layer of delegation between Conference and the members of the Union. It would also expedite processes, easing the problems with the timetable for amendments.
*Encouraging and facilitating use of electronic communications to make decisions through ‘virtual meetings,’ rather than cumbersome and, for many divisions, practically difficult, physical gatherings. We appreciate that virtual meetings for member-based decisions raise concerns regarding inclusion, but where all the participants have a role as branch delegates these concerns are significantly less.
Our following answers to the EC questions are on the basis of existing Divisional Council processes, but we believe the EC should demonstrate that more open options including the two above have been considered.
Other elements that should be addressed in a more open consultation are:
*Whether and why Divisional Council ‘mini-conferences’ are necessary, rather than making these decisions part of the normal business of Divisional Council meetings;
*Any alternative ways than quotas to ensure that smaller branches or groups get some representation and voice;
*The extent to which different Divisional Councils, which work in different ways with different logistics around meetings, could have different procedures.
2. Answers to Questions 6 & 7:
Initial submissions from branches should be limited in the same way as the total number of motions and amendments from the Division, but it should also be acceptable for issues to be raised at the meeting and agreed as motions and amendments.
Procedures should allow for agreement on the issue and ‘direction of travel’ at the meeting and subsequent agreement of the wording by the proposer and Divisional Council officers.
The process should consist of decision on whether or not each proposal is supported by the division, followed by selection of which of the proposals should go forward to Conference. If practicable, this selection process should be based on some form of ‘proportional representation’ voting to ensure that the proposals supported by large branches do not drown out those of smaller groups in the division.
Procedures should take account of the fact that deciding the motions and possibly the delegates will take place before 31 December each year. There could be uncertainty about the number of motions and delegates that the Division will be allowed and the number of women required in the delegation.  
3. Proposed Timetable
The new rule says that numbers of delegates and motions and determined by membership at 31 December, so it will not be possible to advise of these figures by the end of November.
The timetable implies a commitment to distribute the Preliminary Agenda to branches well before 25 January, almost two weeks ahead of the deadline in the Rules. This commitment should be made explicit and binding. The production and distribution of the Preliminary Agenda (between submission of motions by 7th January and debates in branches from 25th January) will be very challenging.
Similarly, suggesting that Councils can meet up to 5 March to decide amendments may not leave enough time for the amendments to be submitted by the deadline of 7 March. Consideration must be given to revising this deadline so that the Final Agenda is published closer to Conference, allowing more time for branches and Divisional Councils to consider amendments.
(TfL Central Branch (460)) 


 

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