|This briefing sets out how members can take part in the democratic decision making of the union and provides a guide on how to write a motion.|
Any member can influence union policy. The main way to do this is by putting forward a motion to express your views about the work of your branch, region, group, the national union, or any of the other structures. Over Christmas why not have a think about what you would like to see PCS focus on next year and prepare a motion to set the union policy to go to your branch annual general meeting (AGM) in February/March.
Motions affecting the work of your branch
A motion regarding the work of your branch would probably be about a local issue. For example, if there is a problem with management and you want to suggest a way forward for the branch to act upon. You can submit your motion to your Branch Executive Committee (BEC) according to its rules. The rules are written down in the form of a “branch constitution”. The constitution will set out a path for how the motion is taken forward.
Motions to group conference
A motion regarding the work of your group will usually be about pay or terms and conditions which are negotiated by your group negotiators. Remember to make sure that you are asking for something realistic and achievable. The procedure for submitting a motion to your group conference is:
- Write the motion. You may want to discuss this with colleagues in your workplace.
- Submit the motion to your branch to be discussed at your branch AGM.
- Members present at the AGM vote on whether to submit the motion to group conference. It may be that they would like to amend the motion, in which case any amendments are put forward, discussed and agreed, before the vote on whether to submit it to group conference.
- If the motion is passed at your AGM it is then submitted to the group standing orders committee (SOC).
- So long as your motion meets the criteria of the SOC (see writing a motion section) it is put on the agenda for debate at your group conference.
- If your motion is passed at group conference it becomes the policy of your group.
Motions to annual delegate conference
A motion to annual delegate conference is a motion that affects the national policy of the union. Motions to annual delegate conference are submitted by branches, groups, the NEC and other forums that are permitted to do so. Motions for national conference are limited to 500 words.
Many PCS policies go beyond the workplace, promoting democracy and social justice throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. Examples are:
- Protect Public Services Campaign
- work to promote the anti racism agenda
- equal pay for work of equal value
All motions go through a democratic process in the same way they do through your branch. Motions are then submitted to the national SOC at annual delegate conference. If the motion falls within the union’s rules, it is debated at conference and voted on. Motions that are passed become policy and part of the work of the union.
How do I have my say if I’m not at conference?
Every member is entitled to vote at their AGM on who should attend group and annual delegate conferences as your branch delegates. Delegates attend conference with a mandate from your branch. This is an instruction on which way to vote on motions decided by branch members at a mandating meeting held prior to conference, and delegates must vote accordingly.
How to write a motion
When writing a motion you should include the following key points:
Who the motion is from
This depends on where the motion is going:
- If it is to your branch it might come from you, your department, young members in your workplace, etc.
- If it is to group conference or annual delegate conference it should come from your branch and will need to be passed at an AGM (AGM guide http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/resources/organising_resources/annual-general-meetings-agm-guide/annual-general-meetings-agm-guide.cfm).
What it is you want to achieve
Make it absolutely clear what it is you want to achieve. For example this could be:
- set up a new PCS structure, such as a network or forum
- raise awareness among members
Why you want what you want
You should make it clear what the motivating factor behind your motion are. For example it could be because:
- members’ jobs are at stake
- members are suffering financial hardship
Who you want to do it
You should make it clear who should be responsible for taking the motion forward. Possibilities are your branch, group the NEC or delegates to the Trades Union Congress (TUC). For example: “This conference instructs the GEC to….”
When you want it done by
Always make sure you include a timescale, otherwise it might never get done!
More detailed guidance is available in the attached SOC guidance (see Annex A).