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Trade Unions are exempt from registering with the Fincancial Services Authority as claims handlers and do not have to give key facts

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  • 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: "It’s been a tough couple of years for the Scottish Socialist Party, and that’s an understatement."
  • union-charges-lawyers.html 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 2005 2006 2007
  • 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 page.


  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

COMPLAINTS

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

DECISIONS

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 Claimant’s 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 Union’s 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 Advisory Committee.

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 News Committee.

REASONS

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 terms:-

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 Committee”


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 in evidence.

Findings of Fact

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 TGWU’s branch 1/230.

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 Union’s 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 Organiser’s 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 Union’s 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 (see below).

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 are registered.

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.

The Relevant Statutory Provisions

19. The provisions of the 1992 Act which are relevant for the purpose of this application are as follows:-

S .28 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 and remittances.

(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.

S .29 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 records)-

(a) references to a union’s accounting records are to any such records as are mentioned in subsection (1) above, and
(b) references to records available for inspection are to records which the union is required by that subsection to keep available for inspection.

(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 that period.

S .30 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 or section.

(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.

S .31 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) to (7).
(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 action;
(d) the constitution or proceedings of any executive committee or of any decision making meeting;
(e) …

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.

The Relevant Transport and General Workers Union Rules

20. The rules of the Transport and General Workers Union relevant to this application are as follows:-

Rule 10
BRANCHES

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 meeting:-
(d) Minutes of previous branch meeting for approval and signing by the Chair
(f) Secretary’s finance report, including report of monthly Administration
Allowance and approval of branch expenditure
(j) Any report of infringement of the rules

Rule 20
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.

Complaint 1: failure to account

“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”

Summary of the submissions

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 were seeking.

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 the information.

28. In the Union’s 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 Union’s 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 Union’s 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.

Conclusion - Complaint 1 - failure to account

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 records; and
  • 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 records.

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 union’s 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 union’s 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 Union’s 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 Union’s 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.

Complaint 2: failure to elect

“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

Summary of the Submissions

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 Claimant’s 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 Union’s 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 committees are.

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 Officer.

Conclusion - Complaint 2 - failure to elect

49. This complaint potentially falls to be determined by me under subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the 1992 Act.

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.

Complaint 3: failure to elect

“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

Summary of the Submission

52. The Claimants’ contend that the CTNC is paid for by a so called voluntary contribution collected by the Union’s Region 1. Its members are appointed by the CTAC. The CTN’s address is the same as Region 1. It uses the Union’s database. Its mail is franked with the Union’s 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 required.

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 publication.

55. It is incorrect to regard the CTNC as a committee of the Union, let alone a branch.

Conclusion - Complaint 3 - failure to elect

56. This matter potentially falls to be determined by me by virtue of subsections (2)(a) and (d) of section 108A of the 1992 Act.

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 this complaint.

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]
 


Reason 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 PR machine.

    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 union spending.
    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 a lawyer.

    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 services. Central 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 tribunal [1] 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 issues.

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.

  • Auditing
  • Accounting
  • Independent Examination
  • Budgets and Cash Flow Forecasts
  • PAYE Compliance
  • Corporate Taxation
  • National Insurance
  • VAT
  • Personal Taxation

Our Trade Union Group works very closely with our clients, holding regular meetings and playing a significant role in assisting them in improving their financial management.
In particular both our training department and business advisory partners have played an important role in providing user friendly hands on financial awareness training for both permanent staff and lay members. This training has fundamentally improved all aspects of the financial information prepared by the Trade Unions.
In addition to the standard compliance services provided by other top 20 firms, we offer a broader range of services to our trade union clients, in particular training. The ever-increasing need to invest in your staff means that 'hands on bespoke financial training' is the key to transforming efficiency and effectiveness in your finance department.
We believe that we offer an additional extra dimension, by always being available and willing to go that extra mile to ensure that we deliver the quality of service our clients expect.
We act for Unions representing over two million individuals and 30% of the membership of the Trades Union Congress


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