2020/2021 has been some of the most difficult times for officers, Representatives and members for many years. We have had to deal with a pandemic and a massive attack by some of our largest employers. I believe that some of these companies have taken advantage of COVID 19 to speed up and advance their disgusting transformation programmes.
The officers have had a busy year having to work on getting several industrial action ballots through. With the greatest success. The RPE had two ballots with amazing results and also the National consultative ballot in BT which again showed the company that their employees are fed up with the race to the bottom and compulsory redundancies.
We started the last year with lots of new officers and representatives and I am pleased
to report that we have filled all the posts over that time. The Branch Secretary is looking into a time table for the biannual officers elections which have been put back due
to COVID and the logistics. As soon as conditions change we will begin the process.
The branch accounts have been audited for 2019/ 2020 and 2020/2021 and I would like to thank Glenn Morris for the work he has put into looking after the branch finances
The branch has done well over the last year with proportionality , and has 4 woman on the committee. We also have a new LBGQ+ Officer and a new BAME officer. Welcome Emma and Charmaine.
The coming months are going to be a real test of Solidarity and a lot of hard work from all branch reps and workplace reps, we are going into a formal ballot for Strike action and we must deliver a massive YES vote . A thank you to all the members out there who have become the voice of the branch, we will keep you informed on the WhatsApp group of everything that is happening.
Finally I want to thank all officers for the hard work they have put in especially Neil Crothall our Branch Secretary who has worked tirelessly to bring the branch into the modern age especially in our media engagement with the help of Glenn Morris. Also for Neil’s dedication in bringing the officers together after a turbulent few years. We
now have a great team who the branch members should be proud of, I am.
27 March 2019 AGM Minutes Bournemouth
Great western Branch AGM. Wed 27th March 2019 Minutes of AGM
Branch chair (Paul Clark) started AGM at 1905
Paul thanks all members for attending AGM 2019 and thanks branch officers for contribution in preparations for AGM. Paul announces BT actively attacking all area of the business with a more aggressive management style brought in from the introduction of EE upper management taking key roles with the BT structure. And that they are pushing hard back against the CWU.
Kevin Maidment, Peter Simpson, Simon Gilbert, Mark Fake, Mark Peel, Richard Mabot, Matt Edgington, Matt Robinson.
Secretary’s Report (Incorporating the Political Officers report)
This past year has seen the branch change the way it engages with its members not only because of the pressures from the Covid 19 Pandemic but because of the call for strike action.
The Covid 19 restrictions have made it impossible to meet members and represent them on a face-to-face basis. This has meant that the officers have
been based at home rather than in Union Offices. However, the demand for union services and support has increased not least because of the redundancies within BT group but also with the non-recognised companies and concerns around the safety of their workplace. As an example of the branch’s effectiveness outside of BT, we now have regular video meetings with the CEO of Woven and have inspected their site in Bristol to ensure compliance to the Covid 19 government recommendations.
The level of disciplines has not, however, declined nor has the level of unfair treatment of our members. The number of equality and discrimination cases has risen and this can be seen by the level of cases that have proceeded to ACAS and the Employment Tribunal.
To compliment the Industrial Relations activity our Health and Safety team have continued to inspect, report and highlight concerns throughout the BT real estate within our branch geography. Their input and reporting of breaches have been key in safeguarding our members. The branch invested heavily in sanitizer and has distributed thousands of the bottles to our members. Masks and ‘safety handles’ were also distributed to our members.
To facilitate home working the branch has invested in desks and chairs for those officers who needed them. This may seem like an unnecessary expense but I would ask you to consider the alternative especially when our union promotes a safe and an acceptable workplace. Not to do so would have
been contrary to the values we promote. Officers have continued with online training with the exception of the Adult MHFA Mental Health First Aider course ,which was held just prior to lockdown and meant we could learn as a group in our Bournemouth learning centre.
I’m especially delighted to report that our proportionality exceeds the make-up of our membership and we now have 4 women officers fulfilling the roles of,
BAME, Equality, LGBTQ+ and Women’s Officers.
Our communication has improved, we now reach our members through email, Website, Facebook, App, WhatsApp, Text and Twitter. This is a rapid
departure for the dual line of communications that were prevalent a few years ago.
Our retired members have made a significant contribution to the branch this year and I am especially grateful for the ‘telephone banking’ that they undertook for us. Around 2800 telephone calls were made by the retired members, which enabled the branch to update its records to levels that has not been achieved before.
As you will be aware, an electronic consultative ballet took place for our BT membership and returned a 97.7% ‘Yes’ return for the ‘CountMeIn!’ Campaign. The activism continues with another database cleanse prior to a postal ballot for Strike action. This will be the second ballet for strike action. We have the BT RPE engineers on regular strike days to protect the erosion of grades within that business unit.
For clarity I list below the reason for the call for strike actions and the ‘CountMeIN!’ Campaign.
In essence these are the issues:
The branch is now returning to full functionality with the appointment of a Learning Co-ordinator. This post will be facilitating learning opportunities for all our members but we are looking to expand its scope in supporting those individuals facing redundancy as outlined in the publication of Redundancy Law (Section 4, ‘Redundancy Law’, Labour Research Department, LRD Publications Ltd/London, November 2019).
Section 4 states ;
I include in this report our political activity, as I have the privilege of being the Political Officer for the branch. In the past year we have continued to affiliate to local CLPs where we can encourage a response. We have contributed (from the political fund) to the election funds for the Labour party and the CWU’s candidate for the Metro Mayoral elections. We have contributed to the Bristol Mayor and Metro Mayor election funds. A video will be forthcoming from the Bristol Mayor expressing his support for our cause.
The branch wrote to every sitting MP and Lord to express its concern around offshore working and redundancies as part of its ‘CountMeIN! Campaign. This was done to raise awareness, gather support and make sure that our that leaders were informed of the cynical move by BT when we were in lockdown. The responses are on our website should you wish to view them.
To conclude, the branch is functioning well despite the difficult circumstances and is gearing up for the next ballot. There is of course room for improvement
and I am sad to report that I have had cause to write to all our officers concerning the way in which we engage with each other. A united branch is key to its success and is instrumental in delivering a ‘Yes’ vote in these coming months and so I want to address a number of issues.
At the heart of branch is the membership, the ‘mantra’ for our branch is on our banner; ‘Those who do not move do not notice their chains’. This is a quote from Rosa Luxemburg, a German Marxist who was the Nazis’ first assassination. The point is this, our branch is moving towards becoming a progressive and inclusive organisation, as indicated by our banner. To do that our officers are encouraged to ‘think outside box’ and adopt a ‘can do attitude’.
With this in mind ideas are floated, explored, assessed for their merit and either dismissed or adopted on your behalf through the BCCM upon the recommendations of the Finance Committee. I have heard from our members, concerns about the branch buying a van and that officers’ mortgages have been paid. I can categorically assure you that the branch has not purchased a van. It has not paid any officer’s mortgage. It is however looking at the merits or not, as the case may be, of a van to reach our membership.
Additionally, our accounts are audited on a regular basis and have been approved by our own auditors and CWU HQ auditors. If there are doubts about the integrity and honesty of our officers you have the right to ask our Finance Secretary to investigate. In fact, my own expenses were investigated following the purchase of a car.
The elections are overdue for the officer posts. We consulted with CWU HQ and they are postponed for a short period while the covid 19 situation unfolds. I will of course inform you of the election dates as soon as I am able to. I have every confidence in our full-time officers. I believe they try to serve the membership to the best of their ability in what are difficult times for us all. I hope this report has given you all an insight into how the branch is progressing and allayed any fears you have concerning mis-appropriation. I am proud of what we have achieved so far as members.
Secretary Great Western Branch
I conducted my audit of the Brach financial accounts during the week commencing 1st March 2021. I worked on the audit from home due to Coronavirus constraints. I followed the CWU HQ Branch financial audit check list as my guide in carrying out the audit. I must place on record my thanks to Glenn Morris, Branch Treasurer. for his assistance in providing the relevant financial documents. I am also grateful to him for answering all my queries raised during the audit. I found the sample of statement, and claims that I checked to be in order. The organisation of the accounts is much improved and has made it much easier to carry out the audit. I understand that the Branch Chairman does carry out
regular checks of the Branch accounts. However, I have a number of recommendations I wish make as a result of my audit. I would recommend that the Branch formulates a code of practice on the claiming of expenses. There is a need for a standard process in making expense claims.
This should include a standard claim form. I found four different types of form in use at present. There should be an agreed time scale for the inputting of
claims. ideally on a weekly basis. I would also recommend that any financial claim or donation made by the Branch as a result of an agreed Branch decision should the a voucher with
the appropriate meeting minute authorising the payment attached to it I noted that a number of payments had been made for consultancy services. I was unable to find any branch policy governing these types of payments and I would recommend that the Branch committee urgently deals with putting a suitable policy in place. It is good to see the use of the Branch funds in supporting effective campaigns during the last year. I also noted the large spend on Covid related items.
In conclusion. I consider from my audit on behalf of the Branch members that the Branch has a good system of financial checks and balances in place and overall the finances are in very good order. I must again thank the treasurer, Glenn Moms for his support in completing the audit.
The last twelve months has been a real challenge for the branch, and I would like to thank the majority of my colleagues for their support and guidance with all the adjustments we have had to make in a short space of time! To enable us to operate effectively and efficiently, this has obviously come at a financial cost to set up and sustain but I feel the investment has been more than worth it, with reduced travel costs and meeting costs which has countered this expenditure.
We are now spending more time on what is important, the members! This is due to the considerable reduction in traveling time to and from office space. Online meetings and communications have certainly moved the Branch forward and will continue to do so.
We have invested in a website, app, cloud storage service, cloud security service, dedicated email service, online meeting with conferencing service and an email distribution service.
The aim was and still is to improve communications with the membership, which after listening to members was one of the biggest gripes. We have invested in our officers also, in supplying them with the equipment we demand our employers to supply if working from home.
The branch has a very healthy balance. As of 24th March 2021, the General account held E125,948.76 and the Political account held 2,449.26, making a total of €128,398.02.
We have now paid the price for Our frugalness and Our March rebate has been withheld due to going over our 12-month threshold but hopefully some of the plans in the future for learning, improved visibility and of course the battle ahead with possible industrial action will all benefit the members and reinstate the monthly rebate as soon as possible.
I can report that the audits for both 2019 and 2020 were completed in trying circumstances due to Covid with only minor improvements called for by the Auditors. I would like to thank Bob Hope and Dave Murray for their Own personal time spent on the accounts and mention that I have added their recommendations to the propositions for consideration to the AGM regarding the Constitution.
With the onset of the pandemic, we purchased hand sanitiser, masks and no touch tools to assist the members, which proved to be popular. We have recently affiliated to the local Labour party groups in our branch area and the cost of this is paid through the political account we hold. We sadly lost a number of members over the last 24 months some of which were attributed to the pandemic. This is reflected in the increased death benefit payments we have incurred. I would like to thank Colin Winsby in his role
as the Retired Members Officer in liaising with the deceased members families and myself.
With this review, I will send out the audit reports for 2019 and 2020, and a nominal code balance report for 2019 and 2020 for complete transparency of
the accounts and expenditure over the last 24-month period.
In addition, we have purchased some new equipment to replace Old and obsolete devices and we are going to decide at the next BCCM how best to recycle and possibly donate it to a worthy cause after data cleansing it. Finally, I would like to address a subject raised by the Branch Secretary. Our strength is our unity, and to hear of made-up notions that officers mortgages are being paid by the branch along with other irregularities, is frankly insulting. More importantly, at a time where we face our biggest challenge for more than 30 years, this is divisive and extremely damaging. It is coming from a place of self-gratification and to regain the loss of control once had. Therefore, I ask those people intent on damaging Our cause through self interest to stop and re-assess their values
This concludes the Finance Report for 2021. I will also send out the Financial Plan for 2021.
I will also send out the financial plan for 2021.
Yours for Consideration
Great Western Branch
Once again, another year passes, but what a year, one I think none of us expected and never want to live through again.
It is obvious that as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions have stopped dead all the plans that we had for social events and meetings. We have descended into the world of Zoom or Go To meetings.
I have just been looking over the government plans for lifting the restrictions and it seems that we are looking at sometime in June before any concrete plans can be made to re-start our social calendar and this timescale also allows for those of us that have our first Covid-19 vaccine to have their second jab and for it to activate.
Talking of Covid-19 I am sorry to report that an increased number of deaths among the Retired Members over the last year and I suspect that approx. 6 could be attributed directly to Covid-19 and sadly I have been unable to attend the funerals due to the restrictions. Hopefully, once we get back to the “new normal” I will be able to attend any memorial services on behalf of the Branch.
Whilst in this morbid mood there are a couple of things that have come to light over the year when dealing with bereavements – people not updating their Death Benefit Nominee’s and lack of a will.
SO, I MAKE NO APOLOGY FOR HIGHLIGHTING THESE ITEMS:
The free conference call that I hold every Tuesday for Retired Members will now continue for the foreseeable future, so if you are worried or just fed up with being stuck in doors then just dial in or a chat.
So, to the future:
Once we can the Retired Members Committee will organise “Am I still standing” get togethers at various venues across the Branch area in order to allow the Retired Membership to meet up. These will take the form of a casual get together along with a free buffet. Details to follow.
As you may know the Retired Members Section has a Retired Members Committee that puts forward ideas for social events etc. Whilst we have enough members on the Committee in Bournemouth and Bristol, I would like some volunteers from Gloucester – Swindon – Southampton and Yeovil. If you are interested give me a ring and I will explain what is expected.
The Retired Members newsletter has been going from strength to strength and the next issue is due out soon.
As many of you may know I am not one to spray thanks around but I would like to thank all those Retired Members who took part in the “ring rounds” on behalf of the Branch in preparation for the possible Industrial Action Ballot. The members of the Retired Members Committee and a couple of Branch Officers for their support, help and guidance over the last year. The officers are Neil our Branch Secretary and Glenn Morris our Branch Treasurer.
I will be happy to answer any questions on this report you have at the AGM.
Proposition changes to the constitution.
Made by Glenn Morris: 4 Dartmoor road, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA133UT
Membership number. 030023037
And seconded by:
Steve Betts: 19 Meadowsweet close, Haydon Wick, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN25 1QX.
Membership Number. 020050811
All claims to be made with the standardised claim form only. Original receipts must be provided with the claim form. Any claim that requires Finance Sub Committee or Branch Central Committee endorsement requires a voucher attached to it with reference to the endorsement.
Proposed by Peter Simpson
22 Bloxworth Road Poole, Dorset, BH12 4BW, Membership number 030158021
Seconded by Andy Holder
2 kiln way, Verwood, BH31 6GE 020253755
Election of all Branch Officers shall be issued by full postal ballot of all Branch members. The ballot is to be conducted by CWU head office or the Regional Secretary and they will act as the returning Officer. Postal ballots will be run over 21 days will be expected to be concluded by start the AGM.
Insert 20 to show quorum number. A minimum of 20 members must be at the meeting and if this number is not present within fifteen (15) minutes of the advertised time of the commencement of the meeting, or if the meeting declares the subject to be of insufficient importance to have justified the calling of the meeting, the meeting shall be dissolved.
Emergency prop allowed by Branch Sec and Chair
Dear, Branch Secretary
I would like to make 3 propositions for the forthcoming AGM.
Minimum Standards 4.3
2. All members and representatives will act in strict accordance with the rules and policies of the CWU at all times, including acting appropriately when representing the Branch and members and at no time will promote their own agenda if it contradicts the Branch Mandate. Any member or representative found to have falsely or with unproven information distributed this information to the membership, shall be removed from the Branch subject to the correct discipline process when proof of this action has been investigated and proven.
The other two props were ruled out as they were not classified as an emergency