Independent Workers Union Charter
The Rules of the Union provide, among its objectives a positive founding principle that the Union will “promote the primacy of members own decision making in all matters covered by the Rules of the Union, and in the development of its policies”.
In addition, the Rules set out an outline of a number of positive rights of benefit members, as follows: “every member shall have the right to equal treatment and opportunity within the Union without discrimination on grounds of gender, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, occupation, age, citizenship, race, language or religious and political beliefs and shall have the following rights as members, that is to say:
a) the right to representation in any matter of difference between the member and his/her employer concerning or touching upon the member’s employment provided that the member’s claim has been endorsed and processed by the Union or an official acting on its behalf;
b) the right to advice and where necessary representation in processing a claim or an appeal concerning the member’s Social Welfare entitlements;
c) the right to such assistance as may be available to members in securing employment;
d) the right to participate in the democratic procedures of the Union;
e) the right to a fair opportunity to seek nomination to contest elections for any elected office or position within the Union;
f) the right to canvas support in any election within the Union for any candidate;
g) the right to canvas support or opposition on any question decided by a vote of the members;
h) the right, subject to the preservation of order, to speak and be heard at any meeting of the Union which he/she is entitled to attend;
i) the right to information of a general nature concerning the policy and activity of the Union in matters touching upon the interests of the member;
j) the right to fair procedures, due process and natural justice in the processing of complaints concerning lack of service or denial of any of the rights set out herein;
k) the provisions of paragraphs (e), (f) and (g) shall not apply to any member who is an employee of the Union.” Of necessity, these described rights represent only a summarised outline of the relationship between our members and the Union, and between the Union and its members.
This Charter has been developed to expand positively on the summary contained in the Rules of the Union. The Charter should be regarded as a living document, which can and should be amended by the members themselves at Annual Conferences of the Union, by way of motion(s) placed on the agenda, from time to time.
The Charter sets out the basis of the relationship between the Independent Workers Union and the members of the Union. In addition, and of corresponding significance, the Charter sets out the basis of the relationship between the members and the Union of which they have volunteered to become members.
The Independent Workers Union was founded on the principle and belief that the members are the union and this Charter has been designed to reflect this fundamental founding principle.
Primacy of member decision making?The Rules provide that in all matters of union rule or in determining the policies of the Union, the primacy of members’ own decision making will be fostered and promoted at Branch, Division and national levels. Openness and
Democracy?The Union is committed to ensuring that there is openness and transparency in conducting all affairs within the Union as well as in every negotiation on behalf of the members.
Volunteers, not Conscripts?As a matter of principle, the Union will not seek to make mandatory membership conscription arrangements with employers. As a matter of conviction, the Union believes that it is for workers to decide to join or not to join the Union. The Union is a union of volunteers who have decided to combine together to further their interests through collective organisation and mutual support. Should a Branch, for a specific or an exceptional reason, make application to the Executive Committee to enter into a defined closed shop agreement, such application will be considered by the Executive Committee on its merits.
Trust and loyalty?The IWU believes that the relationship between the members and the union, and the union and its members, is based on trust. The loyalty of the members to the union is regarded by the Executive Committee as the Union’s most significant asset.
Union Rules?The IWU is structured to uphold the principle and to demonstrate that our members are the Union. The Rules of the Union have been designed to help manage the affairs of the Union and are not a device to manage or control the members. Provision has been made for the members to review the operation of and amend the Rules of the Union at our Annual Delegate Conferences.
Members’ voice?Members’ views and opinions on the operation and functioning of the Union, as well as in the development and expression of our policies, are regarded as the most important advice and commentary on the effectiveness of the Independent Workers Union. Fair process, due procedure, and natural justice Our founding principles require the Union to seek, promote and maintain the members right to fair process, due procedure and natural justice in the functioning and internal affairs of the Union, in each of the members’ employments as well as in society generally.
Case taking and the route to remedy?The Independent Workers Union has adopted as a fundamental policy position that in all matters of industrial relations dispute resolution, it is for the members to determine the most appropriate route to remedy. Information and communication The IWU intends to become a valued independent source of information and advice on a range of employment based issues and related matters. Our members are a most considerable information resource to each other and to the Union. The Union will promote and develop a communications system and network encouraging and fostering member to member information and communication.
Cooperation with other organisations?The Independent Workers Union will behave in an open, principled and fraternal manner to democratic representative organisations which promote workers’ interests and we will adopt a positive and constructive engagement with other trades unions and workers’ organisations. Fraternal relations with other organisations whose aims and objectives, policies or activities broadly correspond with an issue or a policy which our members have adopted, will be maintained.
Good trade union practice and the primacy of the bargaining unit?The IWU regards the representative bargaining unit in the members’ places of employment as the most significant first level of collective organisation by members. In the normal course of events, and in line with good trade union practice, the Union will seek to promote and encourage effective organisation, unity and cooperation among workers at the level of the bargaining unit. Trade disputes It is in the nature of industrial relations that trade disputes will arise from time to time. The Union has committed in its Rules, and Balloting Procedures, that in all such cases, the members shall be fully consulted in advance of any action. This policy and practice shall also apply in circumstances where organised workers, represented by other trades unions, have sought our members’ support in a trade dispute. We regard mutual support among workers in times of industrial conflict as an effective means to bring disputes to a speedy and effective conclusion.
Elected Officers and Committees?The IWU is its members. The regularly elected representative committees of the members are the most influential voice of members’ opinion and decision making within the union, the Rules, and in the intervals between Annual Delegate Conferences. It is the responsibility of each elected Officer and Committee, whether at Branch, Division or at national level, to faithfully and fully reflect the views and interests of our members. The full time staff of the Union, in servicing and supporting the elected Officers and representative committees, will encourage and promote the expression of our members’ interests.
Referendums – asking the members?The Rules of the IWU provide for the primacy of members’ decision making within the Union and on its policies. Consistent with this founding principle, the Executive Committee may, from time to time, directly consult the members in referendums about issues on which the entire membership of the Union are the most appropriate judge of the direction which the Union should adopt.
Staff of the Union?The Executive Committee selects and appoints skilled and experienced full time staff to promote and advance the interests of the members, and they are responsible to the Executive Committee. They often work in difficult and challenging circumstances and their effectiveness is considerably and significantly enhanced by the support and encouragement of our members and the elected committees with whom the staff work and represent.
Our environment?The Union will encourage, both from among our members and otherwise, an active interest and commentary on environmental issues. The Executive Committee will establish a National Environmental Committee which will advise the Union on environmental matters. It will conduct an Audit on the environmental impact of the functioning of the Union – as an organisation – in pursuing its aims and objectives. This environmental report and commentary will be presented to the Annual Delegate Conferences of the Union.
The Independent Workers Trust?The Executive Committee believes that by encouraging the members to directly and independently make monthly donations to the Independent Workers Trust, a most significant contribution has been made to the advancement of the interests of working people generally. The Trust is an entirely independent and separate organisation from the IWU. The IWT will be administered by an independent Board. Members’ donations to the Trust are direct and separate from their standard Union contributions. They will enable the Trust to promote the independent representation or workers, to commission independent research to further workers’ interests, and to appoint the Independent Trade Union Ombudsman who will investigate issues in which members feel they have cause for complaint about the service of the Union.
The Independent Ombudsman?The Independent Trade Union Ombudsman is appointed by the Trust to hear, formally investigate and make recommendations on issues or areas where members feel they have cause for complaint about the functioning of or the service provided to the members by the Union. The Ombudsman is not an employee of the Union and is entirely independent of the Union. The Ombudsman is selected by the Board of the Trust because of their experience in trade union matters and integrity which will ensure members right to fair process, due procedure and natural justice.
Independent Workers Training Ltd?The Executive Committee believes that by encouraging the members to purchase shares in this company on a monthly basis, an innovative organisation has been established to provide essential independent training courses to members’ representatives to increase their knowledge, skills and self confidence. The company is entirely independent and separate from the Union, but owned by members of the IWU. Independent Workers Web Ltd We believe that by encouraging the members to purchase shares in this company on a monthly basis, an innovative, creative and independent organisation has been established which will provide electronic and internet communication opportunities to members. This is a new company, entirely separate from the Union, but owned by members of the IWU, and is in its early development phase. It will be a significant resource to its shareholders as it develops and grows.
Independent Workers Media Ltd?The representation of workers opinions and interests has been receiving less attention and coverage than the Executive Committee believes is appropriate. The Executive Committee believes that by encouraging the members to purchase shares in this company on a monthly basis, a truly independent organisation has been established to give professional expression to workers voice and interests. This is a new company, entirely separate from the Union, but is owned by the members of the IWU.
The Charter?This is the first edition of the Independent Workers Charter. It is a living document and a developing expression of the relationship between the Union and the members. The IWU will publish and circulate updates regularly.