Category Archives: AGM

When is an AGM not an AGM?

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On Wednesday night, the Labour Party Irish Society (LPIS) – an affiliated Labour society with the ability to delegate members to constituency Labour parties and influence decisions and candidate selections – held its AGM.

It was reportedly a disgrace – and a number of Labour MPs and officials have serious questions to answer about behaviour that, if multiply-sourced allegations are true, shows utter contempt for democracy and the party’s/society’s membership.

One LPIS member complained on his Facebook page:

[Progress members came out to] pick their mates from the queue to go through the staffers’ entrance and occupy all the seats in the room, leaving dozens of fully paid-up LPIS members outside the building or outside the rooms in which the AGM was being held.

While paid-up LPIS members were left outside, such denizens of the Irish community as Stephen Pound MP, Chuka Ummuna MP, Stella Creasy MP, Siobhan McDonagh MP and dozens of suited and booted lanyard-wearing SPADs sat comfortably inside.

At one point, Stephen Pound MP even came out and told people, inaccurately, that the AGM had been cancelled! Dozens of LPIS members, not believing that an MP of all people would peddle lies, headed home at this point. Even though RSVPs were in excess of 100, the room booked (capacity 70) was not enough. A second room was procured, but even so, dozens of members were left outside in the corridor and denied the opportunity to register for the AGM.

Even candidates from the left ‘slate’ were denied entry according to the full report.

Now it seems that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s office has intervened in the stitch-up. A senior source from McDonnell’s office told the SKWAWKBOX that this message has been sent to the Left members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC):

I received this from Austin Harney of LPIS. It looks like AGM last night was hijacked. There will be a letter of complaint coming in. We need NEC members now calling upon McNicol to launch inquiry. Sooner rather than later.

Hi. Unfortunately, it did not go well. The room was overcrowded with Progress people, MPs, Lords, Baronesses and Labour officials. They were going to turn many of us away but had to open up a second room. Many Momentum members were not allowed in including some of our candidates.

Also, we had Stephen Pound at the entrance telling many Momentum members that the AGM was cancelled. I raised a point of order at the beginning of the AGM calling for it to be postponed because the room was not big enough. I was heckled but I held the floor. I had to go in the second meeting in the Thatcher Room and raise the point of order, there.

In both rooms, we were outvoted. Amongst the MPs were Siobhan McDonagh, Chuka Umunna, Vernon Coaker, Stella Creasy, Stephen Kinnock, Streeter etc. There were many with no Irish connections at all. Conor McGinn was seen remotely running around and getting his own cronies to come in.

This incident won’t go away. We intend to draft a letter of complaint to the NEC and call for the AGM to be declared null and void.

Harney was not the only one to complain. A Labour MP added a detailed account by a CLP vice-chair to the call for the anti-democratic proceedings to be annulled – which has also been sent to the Irish Post newspaper:

Are people aware of what happened at the AGM of the Labour Party Irish Society? This is appalling. Can we do anything? See account below. I was in PCH [Portcullis House] and am therefore aware of some of the shenanigans.

Letter to the Irish Post about the Labour Party Irish Society AGM 25/10/17

I am writing to you as i am appalled by the obviously corrupt events which took place last night at the Labour Party Irish Society AGM.

I am a fully paid up member of the LPIS, Labour Party and RSVP’d to the invitation to attend the AGM.

I joined the queue at approximately 5.45pm [the meeting was due to start at 6.30pm]

After standing in the queue for about half an hour, Steven Pound MP came out of the building and said the event had been cancelled – a large number of comrades left the queue at this point.

Luckily, I checked my messages and a comrade that was inside had sent me a text that there was an overflow room being made available – I challenged Mr Pound with this and he look quite startled – and went back inside – he later came out and said that the AGM had not been cancelled – He then proceeded to usher in people who had joined the queue after us into the meeting , he did this a number of times and i did attempt to ask what was going on and why were people behind me in the queue being ushered in , but he just ignored me .

Eventually we managed to get into the building and cleared security – we went upstairs to be told that the overflow room was now full and that we would not be let in – effectively, we had been locked out of the meeting with at least 20 other comrades.

What makes this even worse is that comrades inside the meeting were not having their credentials checked in any way to establish if they were Labour Party members, Labour Party Irish Society Members or had RSVP’d . No register was taken of participants in the meeting .

So who exactly was in the meeting?

Were they LPIS members?

Had they RSVP’d?

Were they even members of Labour?

It appears that no one knows.

So how can this travesty be allowed to stand as an AGM?

In my view it cant!

The LPIS AGM should be declared null and void.

A new AGM should be arranged where democratic process is followed.

In solidarity,

Patrick Hunter
Vice Chair Hendon CLP

The NEC must take action – and any MPs and Labour officials found to have participated in this affront to democracy must face the maximum available sanction.

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Annual General Meeting 2017 Report

 

Thursday saw us hold our AGM, our ninth since officially relaunching last decade, and despite some organisation hiccoughs (those who were there know what I mean!) it was a really good night.

Unfortunately, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes was forced to give his apologies because he was attending talks between Irish bus workers and their employers at the time. Never the less, we had some excellent speakers, starting with two comrades from Derby Unison to talk to us about the long running dispute between school support staff and the city council.

Unions organiser Oliver gave us the basic run-down on the situation, in which the council had very specifically targeted school support workers for an alleged “equal pay review” that saw their already modest salaries cut by as much as 25% in some cases, forcing the union into industrial action that has been running since June last year. Teaching assistant Sarah, who works with children with special needs, spoke very m20170309_194607ovingly about how her colleagues desperately wanted to just go back to jobs that they care about deeply, but are losing homes and livelihoods and feel they have no choice. Disappointingly, Derby city council is a Labour administration (with a majority of one!) that has proved intransigent to appeals from the national leaderships of both Unison and the Labour Party. Barnet TUC resolved to donate one hundred pounds, and do a collection on the night, but more importantly to get this massive dispute to be more widely known to help these essential workers get justice. We are all being asked to write to Derby councillors and urge them to end this attack on school support workers. Get more information on the Derby City Unison Facebook page.

Next we heard from Phoebe Moore, of the UCU, speaking about her work with the Freedom of Movement campaign. Freedom of Movement was set up by university workers in response to threat that restrictions on immigration have toward higher education in this country, and what they perceived to be a drift within the labour movement to supporting this by endorsing restrictive “points based” systems that countries like Australia use. They have been primarily working on getting educational institutions to commit to passing motions affirming support for free movement, but are now urging other parts of the movement to come on board. Our own Unison members followed this up with their experience of trying to organise a symbolic “One Day without Us” event on February 20th. They found out that there was actually significant fear among EU national workers about doing simple things like being photographed holding “I am Immigrant” placards, showing how necessary this work really is. Bahir from the NUT also urged the meeting to remember that freedom of movement is something that we want for all people, not just those of certain nationalities, we are internationalists not just Europeans.

Our final speaker Miriam Scharf from the Middle-East and North Africa Solidarity Network. Although MENA, which was formed in 2011 in response to the wave of revolutions in the region, actually gets involved in workers’ struggles in many countries, Miriam spoke to us primarily about the organisation’s work with activists in around Egypt. Despite heavy repression since the counter-revolution of 2013, workers and activists in Egypt have continued to take action – there are actually more strikes per year in Egypt than in Britain, despite striking being completely illegal. MENA was part of numerous important campaigns, such as the campaign to get the labour lawyer Haitham MohamEgypt_SOLIDARITYedain released from prison and support for Alexandria dockworkers, ultimately successful, action against their military employers (pictured). Miriam urged urgent support for an Amnesty International letter writing campaign that is happening now, justice for Italian Cambridge University student Gulio Regeni, who was captured and murdered while in Egypt researching the conditions of Egyptian workers in January last year. BTUC voted to affiliate to MENA.

Obviously, the key task for the AGM was approving our constitution and officers committee for the new year. I am proud to announce that the following officers have been elected:

  • President: Keith Nason, Barnet NUT
  • Vice-President: Dominic Alexander, Barnet College UCU
  • Secretary: Kieran Crowe, London Underground MATS & Operational Management TSSA
  • Minutes Secretary: Bahir Lattoe, Barnet NUT
  • Equalities Officer: Helen Davies, Barnet Local Government Unison

The posts of treasurer and deputy treasurer will announced shortly. I think I can speak for the entire committee and say that we are all looking forward to a fresh year’s campaign, starting with the march against racism next week.

 

Barnet TUC Annual General Meeting – Draft Agenda

The AGM is Thursday of next week. As usual, we’ll have a slightly different order of business.

7pm – Apologies and Minutes of last AGM

7.15pm – Move constitution, financial report and election of officers for new year

7.30pm to 8.30pm – Speeches from out guest speakers:

  • Manuel Cortes, leader of TSSa
  • Speaker from From Free Movement of Labour Campaign
  • Miriam Scharff from the Middle East and North Africa Solidarity Campaign

With plenty of time for discussion afterwards!

See you all there at the Safari Bar, 975 Finchley High Road N12 8QR, at 7pm this Thursday, March the 9th.

9th of March: Come to Barnet TUC’s Annual General Meeting!

Union-leadersIt’s that time again. Barnet TUC will be having its 2017 annual general meeting once again in Finchley’s own Safari Bar, 975 Finchley High Road N12 8QR, at 7pm this Thursday, March the 9th.

This year, we are welcoming a keynote speech from Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary, Manuel Cortes, who will be speaking to us the range of challenges that transport workers are taking on with our wider labour movement in Britain and internationally.

We also have guest speakers from:

The AGM is the event where we ratify our committee and structure for the coming year, so we can carry on the vital work of giving trade unions a voice in the community, and we want our friends from that community to come and participate. So come to the Safari Bar, take part in debate and stay for drinks (as well as some snacks that will be layed on!) with Barnet TUC.

Invite your friends to the Facebook event!

AGM 2016: BTUC Ready to Campaign

ianhodgson

A big thank you goes out to everyone who came to our annual general meeting. Barnet TUC elected its committee for the new year and had a series of excellent speakers who sparked off an excellent debate about how we as movement can take the struggle for social justice forwards for another year.

Our first speaker was the academic and activist Linda Kaucher, who came talk about the threat posed to equality and democracy by the transatlantic treaties know as TTIP and, more urgently in her view, CETA. Although these are packaged for the public as “trade” agreements, Linda warns that they have very little if anything to do with trade, and everything to do with deregulation. Tariffs between EU and North American countries, she points out, are and have been very low for a long time, but standards of regulation to protect health, safety and the environment are much higher. Big business is lobbying hard for these treaties because it does not want such protections to get in the way of profits. An interesting debate ensued about the implications of this, and what it might mean in terms of the forthcoming EU referendum, but there was consensus that more needs to be done to oppose TTIP.

The next speaker was local councillor and new leader of the Barnet Council Labour group, Barry Rawlings. The Labour (and Lib Dem) counsellors have challenged the hard-rightwing Tory council this year by submitting complete alternative budgets, approved as valid by the council finance officers. Barry emphasised that the Tories have been pushing for massive cuts and privatisation by claiming that they have no choice in the matter because of reduced revenue (itself a Tory policy, of course, though they ignore this!), whereas the budget he’d moved showed that there was in fact a range of political choices that can be made in allocating resources. Among other things, they had had a proposal to replace all 800 social homes that are currently being lost through council regeneration projects, as well as significant defence of care services through use of a ring-fenced council take increase that would cost Barnet residents no more than 10p a week. The Labour group has invited the wider movement to have some constructive input into what choices a progressive council, that we could achieve, would do. There was very enthusiastic discussion about this, as no issue is more urgent in Barnet right now than putting a stop to the extreme austerity agenda. We all agreed though, that further resistance is also needed between now and the potential election of a new council, if there is to be any public services left to utilise, and libraries continue to be one of the key front-lines.

The evening was rounded off by Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union. He’d come to our meeting directly from spending the afternoon on a picket line of striking Junior Doctors, who he hailed as fighting a battle for us all and warned us not to let them be another National Union of Mineworkers. He proceeded to give a wide-ranging speech about the goals of his union and its struggle for equal rights and fair pay for young workers, who are massively exploited at the moment. He also emphasised the importance of the struggle against rise of racism, represented by the outrageous rhetoric that David Cameron has used against refugees. BTUC will be organising a Barnet meet-up for the March 19th demonstration against racism in London in that spirit.