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Draft Constitution of the Grassroots Left (GRL) proposed by the London GRL

1. Preamble

The GRASSROOTS LEFT is an organisation that is worlds apart from the ‘broad lefts’. We aim to build a rank and file movement controlled by its members themselves. This PLATFORM is the property and statement of political intent of those members. All those elected as representatives of the GRASSROOTS LEFT are obliged to uphold its PLATFORM, CONSTITUTION and POLICY DOCUMENTS, and we offer our support only to those who do, and continue to do so.

2. Platform

a) For regular elections and right to recall of all officials and reps, who should be paid no more than the average workers’ wage
b) For rank and file control over all negotiations and industrial action through mass meetings and elected strike committees
c) For militant action, strikes and occupations, to stop all cuts – with the backing of the officials when possible, without them where necessary, for recognition and strike pay for ‘unofficial’ strikes
d) For defiance of the anti-union laws, wherever they are invoked to prevent workers’ action, for solidarity strike action with any group of workers or union that is prosecuted under these undemocratic laws
e) For the right of the rank and file to veto all management decisions and workers’ control over all aspects of production, including hiring and firing, for workers’ control over and nationalisation without compensation of all firms sacking workers in the interests of profit
f) For a mass unionisation drive, drawing migrant workers, casual, part-time, low-paid workers and the unemployed into the trade unions, against immigration checks and raids, papers for all and freedom of movement: no one is illegal
g) For the right of all women, black, lesbian, gay, disabled, migrant and undocumented workers to caucus in the trade unions and voice their own demands, against any discrimination at work, fascists out of the unions and off our streets
h) For a rank and file movement, rooted in the workplaces, across Unite and the whole trade union movement, for cross-European rank and file organisation, for industrial unionism and the democratisation of the labour movement

2. Membership:

a) The GRL is a network based for the moment largely on members of Unite the Union. We will aim to consolidate that base while at the same time reaching out to supporters in other unions. As we grow our formal membership in Unite, we will aim to formalise a Unite-specific organisation, and where possible, similar organisations in other unions. (Final Amendment of London GRL meeting 5/5/11). In the meantime, we welcome as members all those who accept our PLATFORM.

b) The GRL shall have a registered membership in possession of the SECRETARY and only members in good standing (having paid their annual membership fee) shall have a vote at all meetings.

c) Members are expected, where possible, to be members of a Trade Union or Professional Association, and to declare these affiliations when entering into membership in order to allow the organisation as a whole to have a better impression of the extent of its influence.
d) Annual membership fees shall have a banded structure: £20 solidarity, £10 waged, £5 unemployed/low waged/students), and all members shall receive an annual membership card. Any changes to these rates must be agreed by a two thirds majority at conference.

e) Annual affiliation fees shall be £50 for big Trade Union branches and other organisations and £25 for small branches or workplaces.

f) Supporting organisations and campaigns will be entitled to a link on the GRL website and the right to a stall or other open presence at no cost at GRL gatherings, and their general size or influence within the organisation will not be prejudiced over any other supporting organisation, small or large. The GRL will pursue as many varied affiliations as possible in order to pressure other organisations into joining the organisation. Requests for affiliation will be considered by CONFERENCE where possible and by the NATIONAL COMMITTEE between CONFERENCEs.

g) We recognise and reject the currently dominant practices of bureaucratic imposition in all trade unions but we need to defend the operation of workers’ democracy with democratic organisational structures to allow trenchant criticisms of all leaders at all times and a ‘seething internal democracy’.
h) All union officials and employees are entitled to membership and shall have a voice but no vote in the meetings of the group.

i) LOCAL and SECTOR GRL groups have complete freedom and authority to determine their own organisational and campaigning priorities where this does not contravene the PLATFORM and CONSTITUTION of the national organisation.

j) The NATIONAL COMMITTEE shall have the power to suspend any member or members it deems to have breached the CONSTITUTION. Suspended members shall have the absolute right to appeal to the CONFERENCE. The SECRETARY shall circulate all correspondence appeals by suspended member(s) to the entire membership prior to the CONFERENCE.

3. Organisation:

a) CONFERENCE is sovereign over all other bodies in the GRL. CONFERENCE shall:

i) Take place at least once annually, convened either by the NC or by request by petition of 25% of the membership to the SECRETARY including a summary of business proposed for discussion, with due notice to be provided to all members by the NC and SECRETARY.

ii) Compile policy documents on the basis of resolutions submitted by members.

iii) Elect a NATIONAL COMMITTEE for the GRL.

iv) Take all decisions and pass all resolutions by majority vote, except amendments to the PREAMBLE, PLATFORM and CONSTITUTION, which require a two thirds vote.

v) Review a presidium appointed by the outgoing NATIONAL COMMITTEE to accept as many motions, resolutions and amendments from members and affiliates on the day of CONFERENCE as possible.

b) The NATIONAL COMMITTEE is elected by CONFERENCE and shall:

i) Implement national policy agreed by conference.

ii) Facilitate the creation of as many new local and sector GRL groups as possible.

iii) Facilitate communication between local groups and sectors.

iv) Supervise the work of the OFFICERS.

v) Act as a national decision-making body between CONFERENCEs, leading national initiatives aimed at winning the base of the ‘Broad Lefts’ to the principles of rank and file organisation, and considering proposals from all GRL members on how best to further those objectives.

vi) Organise national events, including the appointment of a presidium to manage incoming CONFERENCEs, to be approved in turn by CONFERENCE itself.

vii) Aim to meet for one day each month.

viii) Operate a pooled fare scheme to allow all attendees to attend regularly.

ix) In order to allow regular, nationally representative meetings to take place at reasonable cost to the organisation and NC members, consist of no more than fifteen GRL members elected at CONFERENCE, including officers elected by CONFERENCE itself.

x) Be completely transparent and open to all GRL members as observers but will take votes only on the basis of those elected at CONFERENCE to serve on the NC.

xi) Expect each NC member to report back to their local groups on the decisions of the NC.

xii) Expect each NC member to declare the date of their own last regional/sector meeting, the number of GRL members attending and the number of branches/workplaces represented.

xiii) Convene by decision of the previous NC, but not without at least a fortnight’s notice being given to all OFFICERS where they are not in attendance.

c) OFFICERS are elected by CONFERENCE. Their duties are outlined in Section 4.

d) A national EGROUP will allow all members who choose to participate to share information with all other participants of the EGROUP. It will be subject to moderation for inappropriate behaviour, spam and by the CHAIR.

4. Officers:

a) The GRL is a democratic and accountable body with a CHAIR, a SECRETARY, a TREASURER, and a NATIONAL COMMITTEE, all elected by and subject to a national CONFERENCE of all the members.

b) All officers are responsible for the implementation of the following tasks, although they are also entitled to delegate responsibility for individual tasks to other GRL members where appropriate.

c) The duties of the CHAIR shall be:

i) To chair all meetings of the NC.

ii) To secure full and frank discussion of all matters of contention and an expeditious conduct of the business before all NC meetings.

iii) To ensure minutes of the proceedings of all NC meetings are recorded and distributed to all GRL members by email.

iv) To moderate national egroups and other forms of internal communication appropriately.

v) To facilitate the development of similar structures at local members’ meetings.

d) The duties of the SECRETARY shall be:

i) To conduct any correspondence arising from the decisions of the CONFERENCE and NC.

ii) To report to the next NC meeting and membership as appropriate.

iii) To deal with all national and international correspondence and communications received.

iv) To ensure that all members shall receive at least 14 days notice of the CONFERENCE and 7 days notice of other meetings as appropriate.

v) To maintain a copy of the registered membership and national contact list.

e) The duties of the Treasurer shall be:

i) To receive and bank all monies received by the GRL.

ii) To pay all liabilities incurred by the GRL.

iii) To reimburse expenses incurred by members as appropriate.

iv) To report to each NC meeting on the GRL’s financial position.

v) To lead the organisation of fundraising ventures.

vi) To prepare an annual income and expenditure account and balance sheet to be presented to the CONFERENCE.

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