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Friday, May 26, 2006

SFWU members reject rule change

The northern region Service and Food Workers Union members rejected the rule change up for endorsement at their recently completed round of Annual General Meetings. Over 1500 members voted at the AGMs in the Northern Region of the SFWU. A majority voted against Resolution 1, the resolution that sought retrospective endorsement of the new method of electing the leadership of the union. This method entails elections being held at conferences of selected delegates instead of by an all-up membership vote (note; NOT elected delegates – the "s" makes democracy into demockracy). The re-endorsement of these rules was made necessary because of the inadequacy of the notification given to the members for the meetings they were originally passed at in 2004. [See my previous post on this topic].
Northern region members managed to vote down the rule change despite up to a dozen extra site meetings being convened at short notice by the Acting Regional Secretary, Lisa Eldret. These were held at times and places in a manner that mostly excluded oppositional views. At these improperly notified ‘secret’ extra meetings where only the dubious ‘vote yes’ arguments were put to those attending, the members loyally voted in favour of the resolutions. At other meetings where members opposed to the adoption of the new rules were able to put an alternative view, the vote went overwhelmingly against the rule change.
A complaint to the returning officer about the holding of meetings that were not notified two weeks in advance to every member as specified in the union's rules was brushed off. The reply said that only a "technical breach" of the rules had been committed and because the national result was overwhelmingly in favour of the resolutions, no action needed to be taken.
The rules have been endorsed by the union nationally and therefore all the leadership elections will now be conducted in the way specified; viz conferences of selected delegates will do the voting rather than the whole membership.
An election policy has been drawn up in consultation with (but not necessarily with the agreement of) interested parties such as Jill Ovens who is contesting the northern region secretary position. A random selection process (ie drawing the names out of a hat) will be used to choose the delegates to attend the election conference. The delegates will be chosen proportionately by industry in accordance with the industry spread of the membership. The policy appears to seek to restrict candidate campaigning activities to making contact with the delegates selected to attend the election conference. The selection process will not be completed until about two weeks before the election.

4 comments:

Dave Brownz said...

But what are the implications nationally?

Len Richards said...

Reply to Dave Brownz:
The rules have now been endorsed by the union nationally and therefore all the leadership elections will now be conducted in the way specified; viz conferences of selected delegates will do the voting rather than the whole membership.
An election policy has been drawn up in consultaion with, but not necessarily with the agreement of, interested parties such as Jill Ovens. This policy effectively excludes any campaigning until the delegate selection process has been completed which will be about two weeks before the election.
A random selection process (ie drawing the names out of a hat)will be used to choose the delegates to attend the election conference. The delegates will be chosen proportionately by industry in accordance with the industry spread of the membership.

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