Protected: Rule Changes 2020 – Q&A

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Background 

We agreed to examine the Rule Book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the language used throughout the rule book is archaic and has remained unchanged in the 30 years since the formation of the Communications Workers’ Union. We felt that it would be better if the rules were written in plain English therefore making them easier to understand. Any change in language, numbering or simplification will not mean a rule change as the meaning will broadly remain the same.

The second reason for changing the rules was to bring them in line with how we actually operate. This may mean that we simplify, delete, move or make additions to the rules and these may in some cases require rule changes. We have detailed below on a rule by rule basis the changes proposed. We have not highlighted simple language changes in this document.

Rule 1 – Name, Address and Objectives 

In this rule we have examined the key objectives of the Union. Some of the old objectives predated the formation of the CWU and were somewhat out of date. We are proposing to delete sub points (g), (h), (i), (j) and (n) for the following reasons:

  • (g) is no longer relevant
  • (h) doesn’t reflect the digital age and the reality of modern life
  • (i) has been replaced by the new sub point (g)
  • (j) The acquisition of property is not one of the core objectives of the Union. The new sub point j sets out that one of the core objectives of the Union is to properly manage its finances to meet the aims of the Union  in the interests of our members. This allows the Union the leeway to make investments or buy property if required
  • (n) is no longer required

We moved the existing rule “Authority within the Union” to Rule 1 and it is now Rule 1.2. There are no additions or changes to this rule.

Rule 2 – Membership 

2.1. Entry into Membership 

  • Rule 1.2 has been changed to remove the word “accepted” as this could cause difficulties whereby someone may be taken into membership by a Branch in error without the approval of the NEC. All membership applications have always been subject to the approval of the NEC.
  • Rule 2.1.3 has been rewritten to make reference to the online join portal
  • Rule 2.1.7 is a new draft which inserts a non discriminating clause into the rule book. This replaces the old rule 2.1.8 which was too wordy and did not cover all nine grounds under the Employment Equality Act
  • Old Rule 2.1.7 is deleted as all members are given a copy of the rules when they join the Union and any member is entitled to a copy of the rules on request

Rule 2.2 New Members

  • The old Rule 2.2.1 is deleted as it is covered by the new rule 2.4.1 under the heading “Cessation of membership”.
  • Rule 2.2.1 was previously Rule 2.1.5
  • Rule 2.2.2 sets out how new members are assigned to Branches
  • Rule 2.2.3 sets out how members can be transferred from one Branch to another

Rule 2.3 Membership, Categories and Contributions 

  • Rule 2.3.1 sets out the various categories of membership and the contribution rates that apply. The rates that apply to Rates D1 to D4 are set from time to time by the NEC
  • Rule 2.3.2 sets out how a new member becomes “in benefit”
  • Rule 2.3.3 increases from 26 weeks to 52 weeks the waiting for some of the benefits of membership set out in rule 10
  • Rule 2.3.4 clarifies the position in relation to staff on unpaid sick leave or statutory special leave such as Parental Leave, unpaid Maternity Leave, unpaid Adoptive leave and Carers Leave. This is limited to 26 continuous weeks in any year.
  • Rule 2.6 was previously Rule 10.4.1. It was felt that this rule was more appropriate to contributions.

Rule 2.4 Cessation of Membership 

  • Rule 2.4.1 sets out how membership lapses in certain circumstances e.g. when someone is in arrears of 8 weeks. The exception being those covered by Rule 2.3.4
  • Rule 2.4.2 sets out how members in arrears cease to be members of the Union. It also covers members who refuse to pay a levy imposed under Rule 2.3.6.

Rule 2.7 Disciplinary Action

  • Rule 2.7.1 sets out the penalties that my apply to members who have acted contrary to the rules of the Union. It also introduces the CWU Code of Conduct which sets out how disciplinary cases will be investigated and also how members or Branches can raise grievances
  • The change to Rule 2.7.2 is to highlight that one of the sanctions mentioned in Rule 2.7.1 will only apply after a thorough investigation. It also highlights the procedures for investigations which are contained within the Code of Conduct.
  • The change in rule 2.7.3 is the inclusion of the following “details of the allegations” after the notice will also state

Rule 2.8 Appeals / Grievances  

  • Rule 2.8.1 now includes anyone with a grievance against a Branch
  • Rule 2.8.2 no also includes a member with a grievance against either Union Headquarters or the NEC

Rule 3 Branches and Sections  

Rule 3.1 Branches 

The only change here apart from some language changes is that we have moved the piece about abolishing Sections from this Rule to Rule 3.5.6

Rule 3.2 Branch Business 

  • In Rule 3.1.1 we have made some slight changes to the business of every Branch. We have removed the collection of contributions as this is done either by direct debit or deduction at source. We have included two new sub points at

(c) Communication with members

(e) Ensure management compliance with agreements

  • In Rule 3.2.2 we have made some changes to reflect the changed process for nominations at AGM’s as per GS Circular 23/15 which dealt with nominations from the floor of AGM’s
  • In Rule 3.2.3 we have set out that accounts should be audited in line with the separate Guidelines for Treasurers which were issued last year

Rule 3.3 Branch Officers and committee 

  • Rule 3.3.3 is changed to again reflect the changed process agreed in GS Circular 23/15

Rule 3.4 Branch Funds 

While this is a new Section in the rules it reflects what was previously included under contributions.

  • Rule 3.4.1 was previously included under Rule 2.3.1. there is one addition here which states that the funds are for the operation of the Branch and are subject to the overall control of the NEC.
  • Rule 3.4.2 refers to the Branch Running Cost Grant which was agreed as part of the Treasurers Guidelines issued last year.
  • Rule 3.4.3 was previously Rule 10.4.2. there is one additional sentence which states that “Members should be advised in advance of any proposal to either introduce or increase a levy.”
  • Rule 3.4.4 was previously Rule 3.1.3

Rule 3.5.6 Sections 

Rule 3.5.6 was previously included under Rule 3.1

Rule 7 General Secretary and Officers 

  • Rule 7.1.2 replace Union Journal with GS Circular
  • Rule 7.1.4 changed to reflect the position that any Officer so charged should be dealt with in line with the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures
  • Rule 7.1.2 (e) has replaced Officer with an employee which can include either an Officer or a Staff Member
  • In Rule 7.5.2 we have included the CWU Travel Policy which has been agreed by the NEC
  • We have changed 7.6.2 in include consultation with the Pension Trustees

Rule 8 Trustees 

  • In Rule 8.1 we have amended the term length of Trustees form 3 years to four years. Previously it was subject to review at every third conference, but this was not amended when we changed to Biennial Conferences. We are changing this to be reviewed at every second Biennial conference
  • We have deleted Rule 8.8 as it does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulations

Rule 10 Union Benefits and Funds  

Previously Rule 10.1 set out how the Social Benefit operated without some of the detail. This is now amended to reflect how the fund actually operates and it has included some Sub Sections which provide more detail on the actual make up of the Social Benefit Fund i.e.

  • (A) Sickness Benefit
  • (B) Mortality Grant Scheme
  • (C) Hardship Grant Scheme

Rule 10.1 Social Benefit Fund 

  • We have included Scale A, B and C under Rule 10.1.1 as they are the only groups that qualify for Social Benefit
  • Rule 10.1.4 has been changed to how the Finance Committee actually works which is that they meet in advance of every NEC meeting
  • Rule 10.1.5 sets out the categories of members that qualify for the Social Benefit Fund. It has also changed the number of contributions that should apply before members are entitled to the full range of benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks. This was previously Rule 10.1.7
  • Rules 10.1.6 and 10.1.7 were previously Rule 10.1.8

Rule 10.1 (A) Sickness Benefit Scheme  

  • Rule 10.1 (A) 1 has removed the reference to 13 or 26 weeks as this can be confusing and has just included members on reduced pay
  • Rule 10.1 (A) 2 sets out that payments are inclusive of payments grants from other sources such as Medisan or Social Welfare

Rule 10.1 (B) Mortality Grant Scheme  

  • This was previously Rule 10.1.6 with no changes

Rule 10.1 (C) Hardship Grant Scheme  

This sets out the position in relation to Hardship Grants which was not previously included in the rules

Rule 10.2 Children’s Grant Scheme  

We have included in the rules how the children’s Grant Scheme operates. This was not previously included as it was a contributory scheme. It sets out that the child must be registered and that when a new child is registered that a copy of a birth certificate must be provided

Rule 10.3 Legal Aid Fund 

This rule replaces the previous rule 10.2.1 and 10.2.2 and has been changed to reflect what is actually provided by the Scheme as set out in the Members Benefit Booklet. It also clarifies that the first consultation only is free and after that it is a matter between the member and solicitor.