A guide to branch committee positions

Posted By TEU on Sep 2, 2011 |


August 2011

Note:

For further information about these roles, please contact your branch president, branch organiser, or the TEU national office

Table of contents

The TEU branch

This document serves as a guide to branches to assist you in setting up your representative structure – we hope you find it useful.  We would also love to hear from your branch if you have useful tips or ideas that could be shared with other TEU members.

A branch of the union is able to be formed where there are 25 or more members of the union at a single institution and employed by the same employer.  Branches exist to further the objects of the union – on a practical level this means activities such as:

  • working with the branch organiser to support members;
  • recruiting new members;
  • participating in bargaining for new collective agreements;
  • running campaigns, social activities and branch meetings;
  • representing members at conference, and in some cases on national committees of the union.

The union’s Rules provide a basic outline of the requirements for running a branch, such as what branch positions must be provided for.  However in general branches are free to organise themselves as they see fit, within these parameters.

Branch president

The branch president is a vital role in a well-organised branch.  Individuals who take on this role will be given training and support to assist them in performing their duties.

Some branches choose to have co-presidents, to share the workload involved in ensuring the branch and its executive runs smoothly.  Sharing the duties of branch president also provides collegial support, and the potential for a broader range of skills and knowledge being brought to the role.

Some institutions provide a leave allocation for branch presidents, recognising the value of the position to employment relations within the organisation.  Check your collective agreement to find out about entitlements at your institution.

The branch president role may include some or all of these tasks:

  • Leads the branch executive.  In consultation with the branch organiser, may provide low-level representation when members require this.
  • Seeks guidance and support from their branch organiser in attempting to resolve employment relationship problems at the lowest possible level.
  • In consultation with the branch organiser, makes representations to the employer on behalf of individuals and/or groups of employees.
  • In consultation with the branch organiser, ensures industrial harmony is supported by providing ready, quick and formal responses to concerns raised by the employer.
  • Is an obvious link to members at a local level, in particular for new members.
  • Acts as an immediate contact person for Human Resource staff when employment issues are raised.
  • Represents members on the negotiation team when renewing the collective agreement.
  • Assigns responsibilities to members of the branch executive.

Branch secretary

  • Records minutes of branch executive meetings and other meetings as required.
  • Deals with inward and outward correspondence.
  • Circulates minutes of meetings to branch members.
  • Maintains branch files and records (with the branch president and the membership officer in the TEU national office).

Branch treasurer

  • Maintains branch financial records and provides these to the union’s national office for auditing purposes.
  • Responsible for banking branch finances.
  • Updates branch executive regarding branch funds at executive meetings.
  • Liaises with the national office administration manager.

Recruitment/Membership Officer

  • Ensures there is a branch process in place for recruiting new staff including distributing recruitment material from the national office and where appropriate developing local recruitment information.
  • Liaises with the national office administrator (membership), particularly in regards to obtaining reports and information about membership figures for the branch.

Te Uepū representative

  • Selected by Māori members of the branch
  • Branch contact person for te toi ahurangi and the pou tuarā.
  • May act as a spokesperson for Māori in the branch about issues of concern to them.
  • May be called on by Māori members of the branch to act as a support person when dealing with employment relationship problems.  This will always be done in consultation with the branch organiser and the pou tuarā.
  • Keeps Māori members in the branch updated about current events/issues that may be of importance to them.
  • Represents Māori members at hui-ā-motu.

Women’s representative

(for a fuller description please refer to the specific guide for this role)

  • Selected by women members of the branch.
  • Branch contact person for the national women’s vice president.
  • Acts as spokeswoman for women in the branch on issues of concern to them.
  • May be called on by women members of the branch to act as a support person when dealing with employment relationship problems in consultation with the branch organiser.
  • Keeps women of the branch updated about current events/issues that may be of importance to them.

General staff representative

(for a fuller description please refer to the specific guide for this role)

  1. Selected by general staff members of the branch.
  2. Branch contact person for the general staff sector group and national office staff.
  3. May act as a spokesperson for general staff in the branch about issues of concern to them.
  4. Keeps general staff members in the branch updated about events and issues that may be of interest to them.

Branch administrator

Each branch executive has the delegated authority to employ a person for a certain number of hours a year (worked out on the basis of each branch’s membership) to help with the smooth running of the branch.  This is a formal employment relationship and should be treated as such.

The branch administrator is there to assist in the smooth running of the branch, not to completely take over the tasks previously carried out by branch officials.

Before deciding to employ someone the branch executive needs to do some careful planning and give consideration to the following:

  • where is the person going to work:
  • is there office space?
  • what about equipment?
  • what are the real needs of the branch?
  • what is the difference between the role of the elected branch secretary and that of the person employed as a branch administrator?

Some tasks which could be done by the branch support person include:

  • word processing, photocopying,
    pigeon holing, taking messages,
    updating membership files, filing,
    mailouts, updating branch noticeboards,
    dealing with correspondence

The branch should also contact the administration manager in the national office to discuss the employment of a branch administrator, or if they have any concerns about this employment relationship.

Appendix 1: Relevant sections about branches from the union’s Rules

C. Branches

9. Branches

  1. A branch of the union shall be formed where there are 25 or more members of the union at a single institution and employed by the same employer. Branches with fewer than 25 members and existing at 31 December 2008 shall continue in operation. The council shall have the power to establish branches in circumstances other than those set out above and to disestablish branches that are no longer operational.
  2. The objects of each branch shall be the objects of the union set out in clause 3.
  3. There shall be a President, Treasurer or Secretary-Treasurer, Women’s Committee, Te Kahurangi Māreikuraand Te Uepū representative in each branch and, in addition, there may be such other officers as the Branch may from time to time determine.  The additional officers may, wherever possible, include an immediate past-president or presidents, a vice-president, a membership officer and sector representatives.
  4. Where, by resolution of the outgoing branch committee, it is resolved to share the office of president between two co-presidents, the two co-presidents shall act together with all the powers and responsibilities of a branch president as provided for in the rules.
  5. Branch presidents or their delegated nominees shall be able to speak publicly on behalf of the branch on local issues within the rules and policy of the union.
  6. A branch treasurer or secretary-treasurer retiring from office shall complete the branch accounts for the current financial year and ensure that a statement of accounts is presented to the next general meeting of the branch. A branch treasurer vacating the office during the financial year shall present an interim statement of branch accounts to the branch committee.
  7. The branch committee shall comprise the officers and such number of other members who should, as far as possible, represent the broad membership of the branch, all of whom shall be members of the branch and elected annually by the members of the branch at its annual general meeting and whose term of office shall commence at the start of the next academic year.
  8. Council representatives and elected members of sector or national committees who are members of a branch shall be ex officio members of the committee of the branch to which they belong.
  9. The branch immediate past-president or presidents shall be a member or members of the branch committee for one year only after vacating the presidency or co-presidency, but shall be eligible thereafter for election as a branch officer or as an ordinary member of the branch committee.
  10. The branch committee shall have the power to co-opt such non-voting members as it sees fit, including staff representatives on the governing bodies of institutions employing members of the union.
  11. In the event of a casual vacancy occurring among the members of the branch committee other than a women’s, Māori, or sector representative, such a vacancy shall be filled by the branch committee by co-option. In the event of a casual vacancy occurring in the case of a women’s, Māori, or sector representative, the relevant branch constituency shall appoint a replacement. A co-opted or appointed member shall retain the position until the next annual general meeting of the branch, provided always that only a financial member of the branch shall be eligible to fill any such casual vacancy.

10.       Election of branch officers and position-holders

  1. Before the branch annual general meeting, the branch committee shall call for nominations from the members of the branch for the various branch officers, general committee members, and annual conference delegates. Nominations must be seconded and must have the written consent of the nominee. In the case of the election of women’s, Māori, and sector representatives on the branch committee, only the constituency comprising those members of the branch represented by each of those position-holders shall be eligible to nominate and vote.
  2. For each election the branch committee shall appoint a returning officer who shall be in charge of the ballot. Candidates for any office or position shall not be eligible to be returning officers but shall be permitted to nominate, on their behalf, scrutineers to attend the counting of any relevant ballot.
  3. If the number of nominations does not exceed the required number to fill the relevant vacant offices or positions, the candidates shall be declared elected unopposed by the returning officer.
  4. If the number of nominations exceeds the required number to fill any relevant vacant office or position, the returning officer shall make all the necessary arrangements for an election by secret ballot at the branch annual general meeting of all members attending and eligible to vote.
  5. If no nominations have been received for any such office or position, nominations may be called for the vacant positions at the branch annual general meeting. Nominations must be seconded and must have the consent of the nominee. If the number of nominations exceeds the required number to fill any relevant vacant offices or positions, the returning officer shall make all the necessary arrangements for an election by secret postal ballot of all members eligible to vote, to close two weeks after the close of nominations.
  6. If no nominations are received in respect of any such office or position at the branch annual general meeting, the incoming branch committee may call for nominations for the vacant position. Nominations must be seconded and must have the consent of the nominee. If the number of nominations exceeds the required number to fill any relevant vacant offices or positions, the returning officer shall make all the necessary arrangements for an election by secret postal ballot of all members eligible to vote, to close two weeks after the close of nominations.
  7. Should the preceding balloting provisions be exhausted, and an office or position remain vacant, the branch committee may, by resolution, fill the vacancy by co-option.

11.       Branch meetings

  1. A branch annual general meeting of members shall be held no later than 30 September in each year to receive a report of the branch committee and a financial report, to elect branch officers and position-holders, and to conduct such other business as has been determined by the branch committee and advised to members at least fourteen days before the date of the meeting.
  2. The branch committee may hold general meetings of the branch at such times as it shall determine and they shall be advised to members at least seven days before the date of the meeting together with notice of the business to be conducted. General meetings, in addition to the annual general meeting, shall be held at least twice in each calendar year.
  3. In the case of urgency, the branch committee may call a special general meeting at such notice as the circumstances may require with notice of the business to be conducted.
  4. Not less than ten members of a branch may request in writing that the branch committee call a general or special general meeting. The meeting shall be called not later than three days after the request is received by the branch committee and advised to members with notice of the business to be conducted at least seven days before the date of the meeting.
  5. The minutes of branch annual general, general, and special general meetings shall be made available to members and forwarded to the national office of the union not later than 28 days after the date of the meeting.
  6. The branch committee shall meet regularly throughout the year to manage the business of the branch between general meetings subject to the rules of the union.
  7. The branch committee shall prepare an annual report to the branch annual general meeting and to the annual conference of the union setting out the composition of the branch committee, the number of general and committee meetings held during the year, any other activities of the branch, membership and recruitment, and major issues confronting the branch.
  8. The branch president shall take the chair at all meetings of the branch except that, in the absence of the president, a vice-president shall take the chair and except that, in the absence of a vice-president, a member present and elected by the meeting shall take the chair.
  9. The quorum for a general meeting of a branch shall be 10 percent of the branch membership or 20 members, whichever is the less, except that, in the absence of a quorum, resolutions carried at the meeting shall be submitted to the next general meeting of the branch for ratification. The quorum for a meeting of the branch committee shall be 50 percent plus one of the voting members of the branch committee.
  10. Each member present at a general meeting of the branch shall be entitled to one vote and voting shall normally be by show of hands, except that, upon the request of 10 percent of the members present, voting shall be by secret ballot. Decisions of a general meeting of a branch shall be by simple majority of voting members present, except that any member shall be entitled to nominate a proxy to vote on that member’s behalf, provided that the member notify the chair of such nomination not later than the beginning of the meeting at which the proxy is to act and provided that no member shall be entitled to act as proxy for more than one other member at any meeting. In the event of equality of votes, the chair of the meeting shall have a casting as well as a deliberative vote.
  11. Decisions of the branch committee shall be by simple majority of voting members present and, in the event of equality of votes, the chair of the meeting shall have a casting as well as a deliberative vote.
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