Members elected the new national “Combine Committee” to provide democratic leadership for our campaign. It has already proved its worth in coordinating our campaign nationally, encouraging local activity and making many practical decisions which are reflected in union notices. This update covers some of the points which wouldn’t otherwise be visible to members. As well as communicating by email, the Combine Committee has held two phone conferences and plans a third when the consultative ballot result is available.
Alan Black, the UNITE rep in Glasgow, Combine Committee member for Scotland, and UKCF rep for Scotland, has recently left Fujitsu. Thanks go to Alan for all his efforts over the years.
We now have the following vacancies on the Combine Committee:
Manchester Bargaining unit (HOM99)
North West (WAR)
Thames Valley & South West (BRA)
Thames Valley & South West (HOM99)
If you are interested in standing for any of these seats, or would like to nominate a colleague, please get in touch as soon as possible.
The Combine Committee has elected the following:
Ian Allinson as Chair and Newsletter Editor
Alan Jenney as Deputy Chair
Dave Seymour as Fundraising Officer
Jackie Cook as Deputy Fundraising Officer
Isabel Hay as Deputy Newsletter Editor
The Combine Committee agreed the following Standing Orders:
UNITE Fujitsu Combine Committee Standing Orders (31st July 2009)
In June 2009, UNITE members agreed a proposal to set up the Combine Committee to allow democratic decision making and coordination at a national level. These Standing Orders are intended to fill in some of the detail within the framework decided by members.
Role of Representatives
While Combine Committee members are democratically accountable to the members in their constituency, and have a responsibility to coordinate UNITE’s work within that constituency, the Combine Committee is intended to provide a national leadership for UNITE in Fujitsu. Combine Committee members are therefore regarded as representing all UNITE members in the company, not just those in their own constituency.
Individual Combine Committee members do not have the authority to reach agreements with the company on behalf of the committee or on behalf of UNITE members.
The Combine Committee is intended to complement our network of local reps, not replace it. Local reps are vital to the effectiveness of the union, focussing on representation, campaigning and organising at a local level. Combine Committee members should encourage the recruitment, training and involvement of local reps, particularly in their own constituency.
Combine-21 and Combine-7
The Combine-21 may make decisions which are binding on the Combine-7, overturn or change any decision of the Combine-7.
In general, it is not anticipated that the Combine-7 would take significant decisions, but might develop recommendations to bring to the Combine-21, as it is possible to have more detailed discussion in a smaller group.
Term of Office
There will be an election for all Combine Committee seats at least once a year. Additional elections can be called by a majority of the Combine-21 Committee. Before the general election, the constituencies and allocation of seats will be reviewed by the Combine-21 Committee and any proposed changes will be put to members for approval.
Where a vacancy arises during the term of office, nominations will be sought from that constituency for a by-election. Where a volunteer comes forward for an existing vacancy, other nominations will be sought from that constituency for a by-election.
By-elections will include all seats in the relevant constituency.
Existing Combine Committee members remain in office until the election process is complete.
In addition to filling vacancies, a by-election can be triggered to remove a particular Combine Committee member by:
a) 10% of members in the constituency signing a petition to request a by-election for the seat
b) 30% of elected local reps in the constituency requesting a by-election for the seat
c) All the other members of the Combine Committee requesting a by-election for the seat
If a Combine Committee member is re-elected following a by-election called to remove them, they cannot be subject to a further request for a by-election for this purpose for at least three months from the end-date of the previous election.
Combine Committee members elected at a by-election have a term of office ending at the same date as if they had been elected at the normal time, rather than a year from the date of their actual election.
The Combine-7 Committee will elect a Chair and Deputy Chair. The roles are to facilitate the operation of the Combine Committee (both the Combine-21 and Combine-7). The roles include making arrangements for phone conferences, meetings etc, chairing discussions, ensuring the efficient operation of the Combine Committee and organising elections.
The Combine-21 Committee will elect an Editor and Deputy Editor, responsible for editing newsletters. Newsletters should whenever possible be circulated for comment to an appropriate group before being issued to members. For national newsletters the appropriate group is the Combine-21.
The Combine-21 Committee will elect a Fundraising Officer.
The Combine Committee can replace any of its elected officers at any time.
The Combine Committee may create other roles as it sees fit.
The Combine Committee may create subcommittees to deal with particular aspects of its work, may decide to appoint members not on the Combine Committee to a subcommittee, or may decide to make a subcommittee open to volunteers. All subcommittees must report and be accountable to the Combine Committee.
Communication & Confidentiality
The Combine Committee will use a variety of methods for communication, including email, phone conferences, OCS, NetMeeting and face-to-face meetings.
In making arrangements for communication, the Chair and Deputy Chair will seek to maximise participation, particularly taking account of the geographical distribution of Committee members and the fact that the majority do not yet have “facility time” to undertake their duties.
There should be a phone conference for the Combine-21 at least every two months, but it will usually be more frequent than this.
Combine Committee members must take confidentiality very seriously:
Combine Committee members must be able to discuss issues frankly without fear that those discussions will be inappropriately publicised
Many forms of communication are not secure
Combine Committee members will sometimes be discussing sensitive matters relating to individual members
Combine Committee members will sometimes discuss information which it would be unhelpful for the company to know
The Combine Committee will want to control when the company learns of some tactical decisions
The Combine Committee will want to control communication with members and with employees more generally
Collective Decision Making and United Action
To be effective in dealing with the issues confronting members, we need wide discussion, clear decisions and then maximum unity in action behind whatever decisions are taken.
Even where a Combine Committee member disagrees with a particular decision, it is better to ensure it is effectively carried out than to have division.
Where there is a major disagreement between Combine Committee members, it may be appropriate to put the question to members, but the majority of the committee is entitled to make a recommendation to members.