- This page is about the local accounts of a volunteer branch
which gets a significant proportion of union funding. The trend
is for unions (like political parties & voluntary organisations)
to become more centralised but even less accountable. When an
organisation is like a franchise for local groups, it is possible
for local groups' accounts to look silly. When an organisation
is run more like a commercial company with a PR office and people
holding-down paid jobs rather than to blow the whistle, it is
harder to know where the money goes. Even if it does look smarter.
- Since this page was written, the union has made some
attempt at putting national accounts on its web site, showing
for example £2.81 per member spent on law in all of 2006.
A Hard Dowdy
account of 2007 with commentry by Linda
Summerville, who is named on the /union-charges-lawyers.html
page as attending the meeting where the legal rip off was discussed,
reads "our unique agreements with trades union solicitors
allow us to provide a service unavailable to the general public,
which is better than no-win no-fee". This seems to contradict
the evidence about Unison lawers.
Her future political career gives a clue why she bothers to do
all this; she is keen on a system of worker democracy run by
un-accountable unions and a union backed government, rather than
worker democracy as in John Lewis. Her party secretary states
how popular the solution is: "Its been a tough
couple of years for the Scottish Socialist Party, and thats
seems to contradict this on the face of it.
- Some of the spending headings are paid for by extras on the
membership fee, so it is hard to work out where the basic £10
or £12 membership fee goes.
- The Certification Office has free-to-download accounts of
some kind for 2003 2004
- Unite has begun to keep-up some appearance of following the
law by making something you could call a set of accounts known
to members: http://www.unitetheunion.com/pdf/002-Statement%20to%20Members_final-2009-08-13.pdf
Whether anyone has ever got a copy of the "full account"
that's plausible should be read in the light of #accountabilty-for-money
below and the /union-charges-lawyers.html
DECISIONS OF THE ASSISTANT CERTIFICATION OFFICER ON AN APPLICATION
MADE UNDER SECTION 31(1) AND SECTION 108A(1) OF THE TRADE UNION
AND LABOUR RELATIONS (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1992 D/59-61/06
1: on or around 3 May 2006
the Union breached section 30 of the 1992 Act by
failing to provide Mr
G King & Mr M King with access to the accounting records
of the 1/230 branch
of the union
2: on or around 6 December 2005 the
1/230 branch of the TGWU in breach of rule 10.4(a) of the rules
of the union
failed to elect the members
of the Cab Trade Advisory Committee
3: on or around 6 December 2005 the
1/230 branch of the TGWU in breach of rule 10.4(a) of the rules
of the Union
failed to elect the members
of the Cab Trade News Committee
MR G KING and MR M KING v
THE TRANSPORT & GENERAL WORKERS UNION
20 December 2006
Upon application by Mr G King and Mr M King (the Claimants)
under Section 31(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation)
Act 1992 (the 1992 Act)(Complaint 1) and upon application
by the Claimants under Section 108A(1) of the Trade Union and
Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (the 1992 Act)(Complaints
2 and 3):
1. I declare that the Transport and General Workers Union
(TGWU, the Union) failed to comply with
the Claimants request for access to the accounting records
of the 1/230 branch of the T&G Union, made on or around 3
May 2006, in breach of section 30 of the 1992 Act.
2. Where I am satisfied that the claim is well-founded I am
required by section 31(2B) of the 1992 Act to make an appropriate
enforcement order. I make the following order:
(a) The Transport and General Workers Union is ordered to
give the Claimants access to inspect the accounting records of
branch 1/230 in the form of The Quarterly Returns to the Transport
and Generwal Workers Unions Region 1 going back to 1 January
2005, or from whenever such returns were first made, whichever
is the shorter period. The Claimants are to be given access to
those records no later than 28 January 2007.
(b) The Transport and General Workers Union shall allow the Claimants
to be accompanied at the inspection by an accountant (being a
person eligible for appointment as a company auditor under section
25 of the Companies Act 1989). The Union need not allow the Claimants
to be accompanied by an accountant if the accountant fails to
enter into such agreement as the Union may reasonably require
for protecting the confidentiality of the records.
(c) The Transport and General Workers Union shall allow the Claimants
to take or will supply to the Claimants such copies or extracts
from the accounting records as they may request.
(d) The Transport and General Workers Union may charge the Claimants
for allowing them to inspect the records to which they have had
access, for allowing them to take copies of, or extracts from,
those records or for supplying any such copies. If such charges
are required, before any arrangements are made for the inspection
the Transport and General Workers Union shall notify the Claimants
of the principles in accordance with which its charges will be
determined. Such charges are not to exceed the reasonable administrative
expenses incurred by the Union in complying with this order.
The Claimants shall be liable to pay such sum upon demand by
the Transport and General Workers Union, after having inspected
and, if appropriate having been provided with copies of the records
to which they have had access pursuant to this order.
3. I refuse to make the declaration sought by the Claimants
that on or around 6 December 2005 in breach of rule 10.4(a) of
the rules of the Transport and General Workers Union the 1/230
branch of the Union failed to elect members of the Cab Trade
4. I refuse to make the declaration sought by the Claimants
that on or around 6 December 2005 in breach of rule 10.4(a) of
the rules of the Transport and General Workers Union the 1/230
branch of the Union failed to elect members of the Cab Trade
1. By application dated 22 May 2006 the Claimants made allegations
against their Union, The Transport and General Workers Union.
Following correspondence, the Claimants allegations were
subsequently refined and identified as complaints in the following
Complaint 1 that on or around 3 May 2006 the TGWU
breached section 30 of the 1992 Act by failing to provide Mr
G King and Mr M King with access to the accounting records of
the 1/230 branch of the union
Complaint 2 that on or around 6 December 2005 the
1/230 branch of the TGWU in breach in breach of rule 10.4(a)
of the rules of the union failed to elect the members of the
Cab Trade Advisory Committee
Complaint 3 that on or around 6 December 2005 the
1/230 branch of the TGWU in breach of rule 10.4(a) of the rules
of the Union failed to elect the members of the Cab Trade News
2. I investigated the alleged breaches in correspondence. A formal
hearing took place on 28 November 2006. The Claimants attended
and were represented by Mr M King. Evidence for the Claimants
was given by Mr Lambert, former Branch Secretary of Branch 1/230
of the Union, who also submitted a witness statement. The Union
was represented by Mr R Collins, an Assistant General Secretary
of the Transport and General Union. A 225 page bundle of documents
was prepared for the hearing by my office. At the hearing a further
two pages were adduced. The Claimants and the Union produced
written skeleton arguments. The rules of the Union were also
3. Having considered the representations made to me and the
relevant documents I found the facts to be as follows:-
4. Mr G King and Mr M King are members of the TGWUs
5. Branch 1/230 is a branch of the TGWU consisting of members
of the Licensed Cab Trade in Central London. It has around 500
members plus up to 100 retired members.
6. The Cab Trade Advisory Committee (CTAC) consists
of 3 representatives from branch 1/230 and 3 or 4 representing
cab drivers in other parts of the Unions Region 1. The
Cab Trade News Board (also known as the Cab Trade News Committee
CTNC) has nominees from the CTAC and others with
writing and publishing expertise. Its circulation is certainly
throughout Region 1 whether it goes beyond that I do not know.
7. The members of branch 1/230 pay their subscriptions to
the account of Region 1 usually by monthly direct debit.
8. In June 2005 Mr M King sought details of how his monthly
subscription, which had just been increased, was calculated.
The Regional Finance Officer explained there were four elements.
The standard scale 1 TGWU subscription; distress cover; driver
care and a 1/230 local branch fund. He further explained that
The branch fund element is a section fund from which
the cab section support cab drivers in protection of the licence
and for the production of cab trade news etc
9. In March 2005 Mr M King had lodged a number of complaints
with the Regional Secretary about the officers of branch 1/230
and others. These complaints were largely focused on the alleged
failure of the 1/230 branch officers to follow through the wishes
of the branch on certain technical matters affecting the cab
trade. He complained also that a levy was imposed without a vote
of the affected members. The Regional Secretary asked the Regional
Industrial Organiser to investigate the complaints. Of the levy
he said it is a voluntary additional contribution made
by all members of branches in the cab section. The fund is administered
by the Cab Trade Advisory Committee. The Regional Industrial
Organiser went on to say that the increase complained of was
recorded in the minutes of the CTAC and that he was satisfied
that this increase was reported to the 1/230 branch
and the operation of the fund was explained at the branch meeting
in response to a question from Mr M King. Mr King was not content
with the Regional Industrial Organisers report and continued
to press his complaints within the Union.
10. While it is not clear in what sense payments for the 1/230
local branch fund are voluntary, the contributions are determined
effectively by the CTAC and paid to Region which passes them
to the CTAC fund to administer as it thinks best for the cab
trade. Some of these funds, but not all, will end up at branch
level. It is only when the money reaches the branch 1/230 that
it becomes funds of that branch.
11. On 26 August 2005 Mr King wrote to the Regional Finance
Officer repeating his request for information about the financing
of the 1/230 branch. He made 13 specific requests including asking
for the names of the Unions accountants and auditor. Point
11 was Please provide details of how I can access any financial
records concerning 1/230?. CTNC was mentioned but not CTAC.
The Regional Finance Officer referred the bulk of the issues
to the Branch Secretary of branch 1/230.
12. On 2 November 2005 Mr King wrote to the Regional Secretary
complaining that the Branch Secretary was refusing to include
the number of branch members in the quarterly report on income
and expenditure and was also
insisting that the
quarterly report remain in a restrictive cover
13. On 3 May 2006 Mr King wrote to the Acting Regional Secretary
with complaints about the conduct of the 1/230 branch meetings.
He also said I am now asking you to provide access to
the accounts of the 1/230, the names of the Branch auditors,
the number of members in the 1/230 and the accounts of the Cab
Trade Newspaper. All of these are covered by rule and as such
should be made readily available to any member of the branch
that requests them.
14. On 22 May 2006 the Certification Office received a registration
of complaint form alleging a breach of section 30 of the 1992
Act (Right of Access to accounting records) and two other breaches
15. On 6 June 2006 the 1/230 branch met. The minutes record
that a quarterly financial report was laid on the table for members
to peruse. There is a standard format for this report. The first
page under Receipts has four headings; Balance brought
forward, Branch Fund contributions, Branch
Administration Allowance and All other income (sources
to be stated). Under Payments there are five headings:
Affiliation fees and Subscriptions, Branch
Management Expenses, Payments for Benevolent purposes,
Miscellaneous Expenses, and Balance carried
forward. The second page requires the details of all the
receipt and payments under each of the operative heads specified
above. The report has to be sent to Region each quarter. The
branch does not have a ledger in which payments and receipts
16. The normal procedure for election to the CTAC was for
nominations to be taken one month before the election at a branch
meeting. In December 2005 nominations were made and voted on
at the same meeting on 6 December.
17. The Editorial Board of Cab Trade News is a body of long
standing and it fills vacancies by co-option.
I have seen no evidence of there ever having been an election.
18. The registration of complaint form received in the Certification
Office on 22 May 2006 alleged that appointments to these two
bodies breached rule 10.4(a) of the rules of the Union.
19. The provisions of the
1992 Act which are relevant for the purpose of this application
are as follows:-
Duty to keep accounting records
(1) A trade union shall -
(a) cause to be kept proper accounting records with respect
to its transactions and its assets and liabilities, and
(b) establish and maintain a satisfactory system of control of
its accounting records, its cash holdings and all its receipts
(2) Proper accounting records shall not be taken to be
kept with respect to the matters mentioned in subsection(1)(a)
unless there are kept such records as are necessary to give a
true and fair view of the state of the affairs of the trade union
and to explain its transactions.
Duty to keep records available for inspection
(1) A trade union shall keep available for inspection from their
creation until the end of the period of six years beginning with
the 1st January following the end of the period to which they
relate such of the records of the union, or of any branch or
section of the union, as are, or purport to be, records required
to be kept by the union under section 28.
(2) In section 30 (right of member to access to accounting
(a) references to a unions accounting records are
to any such records as are mentioned in subsection (1) above,
(b) references to records available for inspection are to records
which the union is required by that subsection to keep available
(3) The expiry of the period mentioned in subsection (1)
above does not affect the duty of a trade union to comply with
a request for access made under section 30 before the end of
Right of access to accounting records
(1) A member of a trade union has a right to request access to
any accounting records of the union which are available for inspection
[sic] and relate to periods including a time when he was a member
of the union.
In the case of records relating to a branch or section of the
union, it is immaterial whether he was a member of that branch
(2) Where such access is requested the union shall-
(a) make arrangements with the member for him to be allowed
to inspect the records requested before the end of the period
of twenty-eight days beginning with the day the request was made,
(b) allow him and any accountant accompanying him for the purpose
to inspect the records at the time and place arranged, and 5
(c) secure that at the time of the inspection he is allowed to
take, or is supplied with, any copies of, or extracts from, records
inspected by him which he requires.
Remedy for failure to comply with request for access
(1) A person who claims that a trade union has failed in any
respect to comply with a request made by him under section 30
may apply to the Court [or to the Certification Officer].
(2B) Where the Certification Officer is satisfied that the claim
is well-founded he shall make such order as he considers appropriate
for ensuring that the applicant
(a) is allowed to inspect the records requested,
(b) is allowed to be accompanied by an accountant when making
the inspection of those records, and
(c) is allowed to take, or is supplied with, such copies of,
or of extracts from, the records as he may require.
S.108A Right to apply to Certification Officer
(1) A person who claims that there has been a breach or threatened
breach of the rules of a trade union relating to any of the matters
mentioned in subsection (2) may apply to the Certification Officer
for a declaration to that effect, subject to subsections (3)
(2) The matters are -
(a) the appointment or election of a person to, or the
removal of a person from, any office;
(b) disciplinary proceedings by the union (including expulsion);
(c) the balloting of members on any issue other than industrial
(d) the constitution or proceedings of any executive committee
or of any decision making meeting;
S.108B Declarations and orders
(3) Where the Certification Officer makes a declaration he shall
also, unless he considers that to do so would be inappropriate,
make an enforcement order, that is, an order imposing on the
union one or both of the following requirements-
(a) to take such steps to remedy the breach, or withdraw
the threat of a breach, as may be specified in the order;
(b) to abstain from such acts as may be so specified with a view
to securing that a breach or threat of the same or a similar
kind does not occur in future.
20. The rules of the Transport and General Workers Union relevant
to this application are as follows:-
4(a) Each Branch subject as hereinafter mentioned shall have
for its management a Chair and Secretary, and a committee. Branches
requiring additional officers shall submit their requests to
the Regional and/or Trade Group or District Committee, which
shall make recommendations to the General Executive Council for
authorisation. Except in the case of a new Branch, or with the
consent of the Regional Committee, the Chair, Secretary and committee
members respectively, shall have been financial members of the
Union for a period of not less than two years immediately preceding
the date of nomination, and each of them shall be nominated at
least four weeks before the date of election. Every officer must
at all times be a financial member. If, in the case of any Branch,
the General Executive Council shall arrange for the secretarial
duties of such Branch to be performed by a permanent or full-time
officer, the Branch shall not, so long as such arrangement continues,
be entitled to elect a Branch Secretary.
4(b) Branch officers
and committees shall hold office
for two years. They
shall be elected at a Branch meeting
by show of hands, or by ballot, if so decided by the meeting.
The election shall take place and be completed not later than
December 31 in each alternate year and the elected candidates
shall take office the following January for two years. Casual
vacancies may be filled at an ordinary Branch meeting, but notice
of the impending election must be given to members of the Branch
on the notice convening the meeting.
12 The following shall be the order of business at each
(d) Minutes of previous branch meeting for approval and signing
by the Chair
(f) Secretarys finance report, including report of monthly
Allowance and approval of branch expenditure
(j) Any report of infringement of the rules
UNION ACCOUNTS, AUDIT INSPECTION OF ACCOUNTING RECORDS and AUTHORISED
FUNDS FOR CHARITABLE AND OTHER OBJECTS, ETC .
4 In accordance with Section 30 of the Trade Union and Labour
Relations (Consolidation) Act, 1992 ,any member of the Union
has the right to access to any accounting records of the Union
which are available for inspection and which relate to periods
including a time when that person was a member of the Union.
that on or around 3 May 2006 the Union breached section
30 of the 1992 Act by failing to provide Mr G King and Mr
M King with access to the accounting records of the 1/230 branch
of the union
21. The Claimants stated that for at least eighteen months
they had been asking, at meetings of the 1/230 branch, for detailed
branch accounts. In June 2005 they had asked specific questions
of the Regional Industrial Organiser, who had referred them back
to branch where they were ignored.
22. The quarterly report is all the Union has produced. In
the Claimants view, while this report may be a component
part of the accounts, it is not a fair and true picture. The
report should show income, expenditure, receipts, membership
numbers, details of branch auditors, details of any bank accounts
and accounts including those relating to Cab Trade News and the
Cab Trade Advisory Committee or sub-committee.
23. The Claimants appreciate that there may be some debate
about what constitutes accounts and whether or not they are available,
but they believe that these accounts, documents and bank accounts
exist and the CTAC and CTNC are components of the 1/230 branch
accounts. These records both exist and are available.
24. The Claimants also pointed to rules of the Union requiring
the Union to collect and provide much of the information they
25. In their view the Union has constructed a mysterious system
of funding for the 1/230 branch. It appears to give money to
the CTAC which it claims is not a body constituted under rule,
that then controls the legitimate 1/230 branch and the CTNC,
which the Claimants also consider to be illegitimate. The Claimants
further argue that the CTAC and the CTNC are kept intentionally
ambiguous by the Union so as to prevent any scrutiny of their
activities or finances.
26. The Claimants concluded that the accounts they have asked
for are available but have not been provided therefore breaching
section 30 of the 1992 Act.
27. For the Union Mr Collins contended there had been some
lack of precision in what the Claimants had requested. It was
accepted that on 3 May 2006 they requested the Acting Regional
Secretary to provide access to the accounts of the 1/230 branch,
the names of the branch auditors, the number of members of the
1/230 branch and the accounts of the Cab Trade Newspaper. In
doing so they had stated that the rules gave them the right to
28. In the Unions view several of the items requested
did not qualify as accounting records covered by section 30 of
the 1992 Act: membership figures, are not accounting records;
Cab Trade News funds are not funds of the Union. CTN is not a
Union newspaper. The Union, via the CTAC, pays money into the
CTN account which also receives money from advertisements, [presumably
from the Union because there is no way of finding their advertising
rates online - EO] but the Union cannot draw on that account
once payments have been made. Section 30 of the 1992 Act does
not require the Union to name auditors, although the Unions
auditors are named in the annual accounts and in the financial
statement published in the Union Journal. [what's the Union Journal?
I've been a member for 10 years and never heard of it. Is it
something to do with the Freemasons? -EO]
29. As far as the accounts of branch 1/230 are concerned,
quarterly reports by the Branch Secretary are required under
the rules of the Union. At each relevant meeting of the branch
the Branch Secretary produces a copy of the accounts that have
to be sent to the Region. They are placed on the table. The minutes
of branch 1/230 going back over a number of years record that
they were so tabled and were available for inspection. The quarterly
returns are for the purpose of recording all items of expenditure
and income of the branch.
30. In the Unions view the Claimants had been given
access to all of the information for which they had asked and
which is covered by section 30 of the 1992 Act.
31. Although the Claimants had made no direct request to the
Union for the accounting records of the CTAC the Union undertook
to provide them with such accounting records as may be available.
32. This complaint falls to be determined by me under section
31(1) of the 1992 Act.
33. In Mortimer v Amicus (D/1/03) and Foster v Musicians Union (D/13-17/03) the
Certification Officer had considered at some length what is required
for a union to be held to be in breach of section
30 of the 1992 Act.
- First, it must be established that a request for access to
accounting records has been made;
- second that what was being sought were in fact accounting
- finally, that the request had been denied.
34. On the first of these issues I note that the Claimants
requests were usually, and certainly the request on 3 May 2006
was, framed as asking for access to branch accounts not for accounting
records. However, in the context of the form in which this and
their previous requests were made it is quite clear that they
were looking for something to back up the information they were
seeking. I accept that they were seeking accounting records for
the 1/230 branch.
35. Certain of the items the Claimants were seeking were not
accounting records, or were not accounts of the branch or even
accounts of the Union. Membership numbers and names of auditors
are not accounting records. Nor can a request for the accounting
records of the CTAC be subsumed in a request for those of branch
1/230. I find that the accounts of CTN are not funds of the Union.
The Union is not responsible for the accounts of CTN. Though
members may have a legitimate interest, a legal right or a right
under rule to some or all of these items, refusal of them does
not constitute an offence under section 30 of the 1992 Act.
36. The key question in this case is do the quarterly reports
of branch 1/230 constitute the available accounting records and
were they made available to the Claimants. On first reading the
quarterly reports are accounts which show only income and expenditure
under a heading in each quarter and the impact of that on the
branch bank accounts. I was advised that they were put together
using cheque book stubs and bank statements. There are no intermediate
37. In Foster v Musicians Union the Certification
Officer suggested that in certain exceptional circumstances source
material such as invoices; receipts; bus tickets might be retained
as back-up material for a unions accounts. If there was
no intermediate ledger this source material could constitute
the accounting records that a union is required to keep and to
provide access to if members so request. The Certification Officer
did not rule out this possibility in the case of a small union
but thought that to give members more generally a right to source
documents would not only impose an immediate practical burden
on larger unions but effectively give members the ability
to conduct their own audit of a unions affairs.
I respectfully agree that Parliament is unlikely to have had
that intention. (underlining mine: receipts doesn't mean
receipts if Labour is in power apparently. - EO)
38. I do not feel I have to go down that route. I am of the
view that while the first page of the quarterly report is effectively
an account, the second page which details all items of income
and expenditure, is a record compiled from source material backing
that account and as such constitutes an accounting record.
39. I am not, though, satisfied that the access to these records
given to the Claimants satisfies the requirements of section
30 of the 1992 Act. Section 30 requires the Union to make arrangements
with the member for the inspection to take place within 28 days
of the request being received, allow the member and any accompanying
accountant to inspect the accounts at the time and place agreed,
and secure that at the time of the inspection the member is allowed
to take, or is supplied with, copies or extracts from the records
inspected. The union may charge for this exercise but only on
pre-agreed reasonable terms.
40. It is against that background that I have to judge the
Unions response to the Claimants request of 3 May
2006 for access to the accounting records of branch 1/230. It
seems that the Claimants were not contacted to make the necessary
arrangements. The Union relied on the fact that the Branch Secretary,
as he is recorded as doing at all relevant branch meetings going
back over a number of years, announced that the Quarterly Report
required by Region was available at the meeting for members to
peruse. I have no evidence that the Claimants were told that
this was the Unions response to their written request.
Moreover, the Claimants also say that the Branch Secretary insisted
that the records remain in a restricted cover. That response
falls so far short of the access required under section 30 of
the 1992 Act as to constitute a denial of access.
41. When I find that there has been a breach of section
30 of the 1992 Act I am required to make such an order as
I think appropriate for ensuring that the Claimant has proper
access as specified in section 31(2)(B) of the 1992 Act.
42. I realise that the Order I have made does not necessarily
cover the material the Claimants have been seeking. It does though
cover the only accounting records for which the Union has been
asked and to which it has not provided access as required under
section 30 of the 1992 Act.
43. The Claimants clearly thought that the CTAC was part of
branch 1/230. There is indeed a considerable overlap of key members
and of interests. Partly for this reason the Claimants have never
asked the Union for the accounting records of the CTAC. At the
hearing the Union volunteered to provide to the Claimants the
available accounting records of the CTAC.
that on or around 6 December 2005 the 1/230 branch
of the TGWU in breach of rule 10.4(a) of the rules of the union
failed to elect the members of the Cab Trade Advisory Committee
44. The Claimants stated that at the meeting of branch 1/230
on 6 December 2005, the branch officers accepted nominations
for 3 posts on the Cab Trade Advisory Committee and allowed a
vote on them at the same meeting. Rule 10.4(a) of the rules of
the Union requires nominations to be submitted at least four
weeks before the election.
45. The Union had contended that the CTAC is not a constitutal
committee of the Union and therefore not governed by rule 10
or any of the rules of the Union concerning elections. The Claimants
consider the CTAC to be an integral part of branch1/230.
46. The Claimants argued that the CTAC is a decision-making
committee: it raised the cost of the cab levy paid by members
of branch 1/230 and nominates members to other committees. Committees
that operate with union finance, treasurers, cheque books, accounts,
bank accounts and electoral powers must surely be subject to
the rules of the Union and must be a constitutional committee
of the Union. The Claimants argued that denying its status as
a constitutional committee calls into question the validity of
its position in relation to subscriptions and negotiations with
bodies such as Transport for London and the Public Carriage Office.
The CTAC is a committee of the Union and is subject to all the
relevant legislation and to the rules of the Union. The members
of branch 1/230 who serve on it have not been elected according
to those rules.
47. The Union noted that the Claimants have made specific
reference to rule 10 of the rules of the Union. The rule is headed
Branches. The only committee covered by this rule
is that of the branch. The CTAC is not a branch, nor, in the
Unions view, is it a constitutional committee which falls
under rule 10, or any other of the rules of the Union. Constitutional
committees are those set up according to its rule book. Within
the Union there are many other committees with an industrial
function which have powers to act on behalf of members but which
are not subject to specific rules in the way that constitutional
48. The Union further argued that for a complaint to be considered
by the Certification Officer under subsection (2)(d) of section
108A of the 1992 Act it must relate to an executive committee
or any other decision-making committee which falls under the
rules of the Union. The CTAC is an industrial body and any complaint
about it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Certification
49. This complaint potentially falls to be determined by me
under subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the 1992
50. I can understand the Claimants concern that the
body within the Union that seems to exercise most influence over
issues affecting the cab trade in London is not the branch but
an advisory body. That is, the CTAC. This concern is no doubt
aggravated by their view that the branch nominees for that committee
have been improperly elected to it.
51. However, none of these are issues for me. The complaint
relates to rule 10.4(a) of the rules
of the Union. That rule clearly relates to elections of branch
officers and the branch committee. The CTAC is not a branch and
elections to it are not therefore covered by this rule. For that
reason I must dismiss the complaint. The initial complaint was
brought under subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the
1992 Act. I have not considered the issue of my jurisdiction
under subsection (2)(d). If, as in this case, a complaint fails
because there is no breach of the rule cited it would be bound
to fail under either jurisdiction.
that on or around 6 December 2005 the 1/230 branch
of the TGWU in breach of rule 10.4(a)
of the rules of the Union failed to elect the members of the
Cab Trade News Committee
52. The Claimants contend that the CTNC is paid for
by a so called voluntary contribution collected by the Unions
Region 1. Its members are appointed by the CTAC. The CTNs
address is the same as Region 1. It uses the Unions database.
Its mail is franked with the Unions frank. It has its own
bank account, issues cheques, produces accounts and has a treasurer
(the same person as for the CTAC). The CTNC is financially an
integral part of branch 1/230, but its members are not elected
according to the rules of the Union.
53. The Union repeated its arguments used in relation to complaint
2. It added that the CTNC did not actually exist. There is, though,
an editorial board of Cab Trade News known as the Cab Trade News
Committee. New members are co-opted to the board as and when
54. The Cab Trade News Journal reflects TGWU policy, and is
funded by donations from branches throughout the cab trade section
and by advertisements placed in the journal. It is not a union
55. It is incorrect to regard the CTNC as a committee of the
Union, let alone a branch.
56. This matter potentially falls to be determined by me by
virtue of subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the 1992
57. Whatever else it is, the CTNC is not a branch of the Union
and there is no obligation for members of it to be elected according
to rule 10.4(a) of the rules of the Union. I therefore dismiss
58. I repeat my conclusions in relation to jurisdiction under
subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the 1992 Act that
I set out for complaint 2.
E G Whybrew CBE Assistant Certification Officer [here's
another one of his judgements]
for transcribing this: to show
Democracy in the rule book
- There is no way of making all union branches democratic without
a change in the law, recognition agreements, or members setting-up
better unions. Those who run this branch do not want to be democratic,
the regional office didn't then want to make them democratic.
Unions have special places in the law as bodies that employers
are bound to recognise. As providers of legal insurance for people
who get the sack they have unequal market power, as well as the
privilage of not having to pay insurance premium tax. They can
also be a pretty pious lecturing bunch generally so it's fair
that the law should ask them to be democratic, rather than the
current system of allowing them to do just about as little as
they can get away with so long as they fund the governing party's
The account of a certification office hearing above and the Rules.html rule book with all its democracy
have nothing in common. (there are now two rules pages - a draft
and a current - so the link may not point to the right one. Comparison
is interesting). The squatters in derelict union committees,
abandoned as times change, have no intention of making them democratic
with email ballots,
detailed accounts on the web or podcasts of committee meetings
and seem rather happy to have found a free committee table, a
magazine and a topped-up bank account just for the sake of keeping
up appearances. They are not going to let another squatter move-in
without a fight. They are nothing to do with the democrats who
wrote the rule book.
Rule #2 tells members of merging-unions
what they can expect if they merge:
(d) Every member, not being an honorary member, shall, subject
to the following rules, have an equal voice in all the concerns
thereof, and in the administration of all the property thereof.
An honorary member shall not be entitled to vote
None of this is taken out of context. There is a lot in the
rule book about setting-up a kind of alternative government with
powers over members - something only the Law Society, the British
Medical Council and some rather nasty government quangos like
the Social Care Council now do and this is wrong now as it was
wrong then, but democracy goes through the rule book like a name
in a stick of rock. The T&G ideal in 1922 would be like modern
Swiss cantons, with by-laws about when to mow your lawn but with
a show-of-hands in the town square to support the by-laws. Horrible
but worth improving.
Any class politics in the book is aspirational: workers want
to be managers, of a more collective sort, but not to be nationalised
or give money to a specific party that's used to getting it.
T&G unionists in 1922 would have been bored or puzzled by
the modern co-op movement as most people are today. Worker control
is clear in two out of the three mentions under rule 2 - objects
- of which the clearest is
"securing of a
real measure of control in industry and
participation by the workers in the management,
in the interest of labour and the general community."
Rule 10 describes democracy of
"all the members" too:
Where a branch fails to convene an Annual General Meeting
of all members that branch will be suspended [...]
They, (other than such permanent or full-time officers as aforesaid)
shall be elected at a Branch meeting by show of hands, or by
ballot, if so decided
by the meeting.
So the rule 10.4(b) about a show of hands is about a meeting
of all 500 cabbies agreeing to do without a paper ballot; it
isn't a rule that says the existing committee can simply elect
itself once in two years and ignore significant complaints about
Further down in Rule 10 we read what size a branch can be:
17. Should not less than fifty persons desire to form a new
Branch of the Union, or not less than twenty in any place where
no Branch exists, they shall apply to the General or Regional
Secretary for a form of application, which, when filled in, shall
be forwarded to the Central Office for endorsement by the General
Executive Council. If so endorsed such persons shall be admitted
as members and the Branch shall then be constituted.
Democracy at the Certification
Office and in practice
Over the years as the union has become more like the AA, it's
become normal for a few activists to self elect and be tolerated
on condition they help keep-up appearances, with an allowance
paid to them per member. The only other people likely to see
the election are visiting speakers from the campaign groups and
members who have come to complain.
The branch I saw was described by the new official as one that
"functions exactly as a branch is supposed to function,
making donations to working class charities - a gemm"
The Certification Officer takes the same view of the Cab branch,
as far as his judging work goes. Has has had plenty of complaints
and opportunities to phone the parties before this hearing in
which he has narrowed-down the points to three, and self-election
is not an issue for him. If I complained to him that my feckless
union officials and the detail of where my money goes are kept
are insulated from real members by a bunch of self-elected communists
who pretend to represent members and join the union in order
to fund the Morning Star, I suppose he would say, politely,
"tough", and think, sympathetically "sucker".
The only reason we can read about the Cab branch is because they
have not even kept-up appearances with their advisory committee
and news committee, and they're so used to authority that they
don't back down when someone complains. Self-employed people
or cabbies being what they are, Mss King do complain and another
unusual thing is that someone cares what a branch does. It is
not just a small slush fund given to well-meaning people who
confuse members and help conceal larger unon slush funds from
member scrutiny. It does something-or-other in the cab trade
which we will probably never know because the committees are
not accountable to members. The branch has also persuaded the
union to hike-up the membership fees for branch members and some
members are taking an interest.
Accounts: there is
no accountabiliy for money
- Starting at the beginning - there is a hole in the accounts
of Unite's TGWU section and probably other unions.
There is certainly a hole in the accounts of UNISON because they
mention in publicity that all their legal work for personal injury
is funded from success fees paid to lawyers by the other side,
and if it were stopped they might stop organising legal claims
for their members.
So why does their account to the Certification Office, which
certifies that they are alive and a union, mention large amounts
for legal services to members? The same hole exists for Unite's
T&G section. Accounts to the Certification Office show large
amounts for legal services to members but statements in this
interview and the ratio of personal injury to employment work
suggest that the union is using no-win no-fee lawyers. Bollox
to them. Shits. The due dillegence report to the rather desparate
Amicus General Executive Council by Stoy Hayward accountants
did mention a problem or two. Murkey lists of voting members.
Kickbacks from lawyers. I have a vague idea that I paid
£15 a month to TGWU in the early 2000s and thought it was
going to protect me from being sacked and not being able to afford
There is no way of finding out where £15 a month goes.
(My membership was about £15 a month including political
fund, which I hadn't thought to cancel; the parliamentary
branch are mote subtle and get their subscription down to £9.35)
Members might not worry that a volunteer committee gives opinions
on everything in the world as long as they are free opinions
and the £15 subscription buys about £15-worth of
accounts are probably accurate about staff salaries but when
they tot-up local branch accounts they are totting-up donations-on-behalf
(money laundering is another word for it) and a maze of budget-holding
committees. Also, the central accounts in this year were an amalgum
of regional accounts: the union was a federation of regions.
Later it became a federation of two large part merged unions.
Comprendi? And by the way there were two sets of accounts for
the year of merger, a Hard Dowdy set of accounts from the specialist
union accountants with offices at Transport House, and a Stoy
Hayward set of accounts made for Amicus pre-merger. One set of
accounts shows the union paying lawyers. Stoy Hayward shows lawyers
paying unions. This is reported in the minutes of the Amicus
NEC before they managed to make the minutes secret.
To centralise branch bank accounts would remove even more accountability
as branches would find it harder to split away or to do anything
unusual with the money, like getting decent interest.
- Thirteen internal
union committees exist with regional duplicates, according
to an organisational chart, while Unite-T&G Region One lists 22 external organisations
which it funds. Maybe this is a London thing. The Greater
London Authority has a "small" budget growing at 150%
but funds 25 organisations within the family, as it's described
by the current audtitor to the new regime. Some of the organisations
overlap with organisations funded by the T&G union. Branch
1/1148 duplicates the region's funding, bankrolling a similar
list with trade groups and the communist party's landlord added-on
a the end. In the example above, the branch has "constructed
a mysterious system" as far as the member can make out
from quarterly returns. Union members can't "conduct
an audit" so they rely on an independent accountant's
firm that conveniently shares an office with the union at Transport
House. The government-funded Certification office says that "receipts"
doesn't mean receipts in the sense of the word "receipts"
as a tax office would use it to a self-employed person or
an employer to an employee but an "intermediate ledger"
showing the headings a union wants to show you, not what recipients
have shown them. In this definition, a cabbie could tell the
tax office "it must be a business expense for diesel
because it's on the credit card I usually use for diesel. No
I'm not going to double-check for you whether I used the same
card in Spain to pay for diesel from Easyjet, Travellodge and
SexBar, nor find out whether I still have receipts from them
with 'Diesel' written on them. That would be to conduct an audit
of my affairs which was not parliament's intention. So there:
you've seen an intermediate statement and the amountof tax I
wish to pay. The law is a state of mind. You have to guess its
thoughts with an air of respect for people like me. Sort that
out or you won't hear a thing more from me."
And "union" doesn't mean groups funded by the
union, even if they happen to have the same letterhead, membership
and funding (not that you can see the bank statements to check).
This is all legal. The Labour government-funded Certification
office quote themselves for case law about the legal budget of
a union that had paid-off it's general secretary, but they interpret
their own case law broadly.
The poke-your-nose rule (which
the certification office is perfectly happy about)
The law doesn't give you rights if a government employee thinks
it's not the "likely intention" of parliament,
meaning the executive, which is guessed. "Not to poke
your nose", probably. King Charles I tried putting the
"poke your nose" law more directly at another
in the banqueting house, Whitehall, where he had to put his case
without a lawyer:
"I would know by what power I am called hither.... And
when I know what lawful authority, I shall answer. Remember,
I am your King your lawful King and what sins you
bring upon your heads and the judgment of God upon this land,
think well upon it I say think well upon it before
you go further from one sin to a greater. Therefore let me know
by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I shall not be
unwilling to answer, in the meantime I shall not betray my Trust:
I have a Trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent,
I will not betray it to answer a new unlawful Authority, therefore
resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me."
What he should have said was "hear my case at the
Certification Office down the road: they'll give you poke-your-nose"
and he would have won his case. If he had gone to another quango
tribunal, The General
Teaching Council sitting in Birmingham, he could then have
got parliament barred from office for "undermining the
authority of the headmaster".
- If there isn't accountability for money, groups of people
could logically be attracted to union positions as equity finance
companies are attracted to voting shares, and the donation from
branch 1/1148 to the Communist Party of Britain's landlord looks
like an example of that. They could also be keen to go through
the motions - marching with banners and hushing up scandles -
just to further a political hobby. Wherever the money goes, lots
of money doesn't go to pay officials & lawyers. An account
of another union's legal service
to members shows how bad a service they can get away with.
This from Eddie Lambert, Taxiglobe.info
19 March 2008 short pdf download
The Central London 1/230 Cab Trade Section is due to restart
following the suspension of branch meetings from November 2006.
It is expected that the first meeting will be Tuesday 4th March
2008, but members are asked to read the Newsletter
that will accompany the February/March copy of Cab Trade News
due out in the last week of February.
The restart comes after the conclusion of a meeting of the
Emergencies and General Practises Committee on the 17th December
2007 which heard charges against 4 active members who have been
campaigning against the way the branch has been run. These members
had already had to resort to taking a complaint to the Certification
Office (a government agency set up to over see the Unions) regarding
access to Branch Accounts - something that they were fully entitled
to see under union rules.
During the period that the branch was suspended the activists
also alleged that there was evidence of misuse and fraudulent
electoral practises. On the 17th December 2007 the Regional Secretary
Mr Steve Hart issued a letter to all members of the Region 1
Passenger Group (which includes the Cab Trade Section) stating
that (paraphrasing) due to a significant number of branch ballots
showing clear evidence of fraud the results were unsafe and a
re-run of the ballot would be conducted by post, utilising the
independent Electoral Reform Services.
At the hearing on December 17th the four members were found
not proven of sexist harassment of the branch chair due to her
failure to open the meeting in November 2006 properly and then
suspend standing orders to allow the meeting to be
held on one issue the proposed merger (at the time) of the T&G
and Amicus. The members wanted a separate meeting to be held
on this issue and the branch meeting to concentrate on trade
They were also accused of inappropriate language, threatening
and intimidating behaviour.
The E&GP Committee decided No Further Action.
The committee had accepted that the volatile situation was not
helped by the Regional Secretary himself using profane language
when addressing the meeting. Although the immediate charges of
financial impropriety raised by the four defendants was not going
to be taken further by the E&GP committee it is known that
investigations are continuing.
The E&GP committee were also concerned that the four members
and others had raised concerns over the way the 1/230 Branch
was run over several years. They recommended that a full time
officer attend future meetings. However this is not the first
time that this has been said but following one meeting where
this happened, the officer was not seen again.
As stated above members are asked to read carefully any communications
from the union particularly regarding the restart to the meetings
and consider attending to help bring back the branch to the trade
and its members.
Reason for quoting this:
The union doesn't have a cheap system for balloting branch
members or showing them accounts.
In a decentralised union with significant budgets for local groups,
this is important.
Branch treasurers could publicise local accounts including donations
on the internet, but they don't.
They could try to ballot online, but they don't try that either.
It is free.
All the regional general secretary can do is wait until complaints
get too embarrassing, and then arrange a postal ballot and a
minder at a meeting.
National accounts exist but they have a huge hole in them - there
are only 400 staff according to the web site and they take a
small proportion of members' dues. Legal costs are even worse
defined. Accounts to members - which aren't given to members
but have to be faxed to the Certification Office so members can
see them for free online - show money spent for legal services
but Stoy Hayward accountants reported to Amicus during merger
that T&G lawyers pay "referral fees". The
quote online doesn't say how much these fees are but assuming
they are enough to pay for 400 staff, thirteeen regional office
blocs, Transport House and some odds-and-ends this leaves the
question of where £9.35-£15 goes from members' bank
accounts each month and the answer is probably what you think.
If you wonder what services you would like to have run from the
most independent accountancy firm, which cares least for repeat
business and most for getting a fair deal for members, you'll
probably think of fact-checking & investigation. Or you might
want the bank statements scanned and shown online, or some kind
of member scrutiny rather than relying on accountants.
If you wonder what services are done by the firm with a special
brand for union work, an office in the the same block as the
trade association, and "30% of the membership of the
Trades Union Congress" depending on their judgement,
you need only look at the firm's web site.
- Independent Examination
- Budgets and Cash Flow Forecasts
- PAYE Compliance
- Corporate Taxation
- National Insurance
- Personal Taxation
Employees.org.uk - achieving more by saying what's wrong