In line with NIPSA’s Rules, branches are required to hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) during the month of October. There has been a delay in issuing this circular this year due to the pandemic. However, NIPSA HQ has received a number of queries from branches as to whether they can or should hold Annual General Meetings this year. It will be for each branch to determine whether they can hold an AGM either remotely or socially distanced (at the current time due to public health guidance branches cannot meet in the one room, however this advice may change in the coming weeks and therefore branches can make that determination).
The following is to remind all branches of the rules and to take into account the following points in making the arrangements to hold the Branch AGM.
A main purpose of the Branch AGM is to elect the Branch Officers and Branch Committee, etc. for the next year. The Agenda for the Branch AGM should therefore include:
- election of Branch Officers and Committee members for the incoming year;
- election of Health and Safety Representatives (normally elected for a 3-year period);
- affiliation to Trades Councils;
- other relevant elections, for example, for Departmental or Section Committee or Panels, etc.; and
- other relevant business.
For further guidance in preparing for your AGM, Branch Officers should refer to Section 4 plus Annexes A and B of the NIPSA Constitution. Copies of these sections are attached to this circular for convenience.
It is important that Branches seek to ensure maximum participation both in Branch Committee membership and in the work of the branch, especially in view of the threats to both public services and public servants. It is also important, where possible, to ensure that Branch Committees reflect the range of work areas/sectors/functions within the area of the Branch’s jurisdiction.
The Challenge Ahead
The challenges for NIPSA and NIPSA representatives in the incoming year are unprecedented with both the challenges of the pandemic and all the workplace issues that brings with it and the EU Exit at the end of the year. The role of Health & Safety representatives have been to the fore like never before and I want to urge all branches to ensure they appoint health and safety representatives as not all branches currently have health and safety representatives or in some instances for the size of the branch and the challenges ahead more health and safety representatives at branch level are required.
NIPSA Organisation and Recruitment
In the current climate of attacks on jobs, public services, terms and conditions, pay, etc. and having to deal with many members working from home, the issue of Branch Organisation and Recruitment is an even bigger challenge. NIPSA’s General Council are considering this very serious issue with a view to addressing these challenges in a practical way going forward.
In the past the role of the Branch Organiser did not always feature high in many Branches but it is a vital role. All Branches, therefore, are strongly encouraged to ensure they appoint a Branch Organiser at their AGM. Support is available by way of input from the NIPSA Organisers, training events and seminars to support Branches and their Organisers in this role. In the year ahead, we have to make it a key priority to increase trade union recruitment and organisation of all workers (agency or permanent) and to make the issue of full-time staffing levels a key agenda item at every level of our negotiating work.
Branches can use the NIPSA website to inform members of Branch meetings.
General Equality Monitoring
Branches are reminded of the need to be conscious of balanced representation in the elections particularly on a gender basis. The Union is committed to improving the level of female representation. It is essential for the purposes of gender equality monitoring that you include gender identification for all posts when you complete the enclosed AGM form.
Provision of Interpreters and Crèche Facilities
NIPSA will pay the cost of providing sign language or interpreters and crèche facilities, for Branch AGMs if required. However, as the number of signers available is limited, an application should be made well in advance of the meeting. If someone in your Branch requires the provision of an interpreter or crèche facilities, please contact NIPSA Headquarters.
Conduct at NIPSA Meetings
Branches are reminded of NIPSA’s guidance on conduct at meetings approved by the General Council. A copy is also attached for reference.
Finally, once your AGM has taken place, do please complete and submit the attached AGM return form to NIPSA Headquarters as soon as is possible. This is crucial to maintaining an accurate record for communication purposes, which will enable us to keep Branches informed of issues as well as advising of the range of membership services. Please include email addresses where available.
You can download AGM forms (the Branch Return form can be completed using Adobe Reader) and materials from the links below. I hope your Branch has a successful AGM.