Constitution

As agreed at the Your Voice inaugural Annual General Meeting, 18 July 2014.

Statement of Intent

Your Voice is a rank-and-file organisation in the HMRC Group of the PCS Union. We stand for a union led from the ground by its members which fights for the interests of the workers against those of the bosses through direct action.

Our decisions are made through the participation of all our membership. We stand candidates in PCS elections, but this is not the sum of our activity. We are not an electoral faction and wish to offer a different way of organising and ensure that those on the front line of the government’s and employer’s attacks have direct control over our own struggles.

We reject the view – cultivated by employers and unions alike – that government workers should be politically neutral. We reject the view that our struggles are purely economic ones and that political struggle takes place “somewhere else.” As it is the rank and file at the front-line of implementing government policies, our struggle is an explicitly political one and we defend the right to take a political stand on every issue affecting our class.

The interests of the working class lie in the abolition of capitalist society. While the focus of our organising efforts are winning and defending gains in the present, we also hold to a radically different vision for society: one without rulers or bosses, run democratically for the benefit of all rather than the profit of a few.

Aims

  1. Pay – We need a sustained and effective national industrial strategy to force the government’s hand on pay, not just isolated single day ‘coordinated’ action. We need to fight for pay equality, so that the highest rate for each pay band becomes the standard rate.
  2. Defending and improving conditions – We should seek to defend our terms and conditions when they are under attack, but also to improve them. PCS has spent years on the defensive when we should be asserting our own demands.
  3. A fully resourced HMRC – The employer’s vision of the future is a small, specialised core of permanent staff, while additional needs and peaks in demand are fulfilled by casual, outsourced, non-union staff with awful pay and conditions. In opposition to this, we demand not only an end to job cuts, but a jobs audit to establish what work isn’t being done, a recruitment campaign to fill the gap, the re-opening of walk in enquiry centres and all outsourced staff and contracts being brought in house.
  4. Fight for contractors – We need to campaign and organise so that outsourced staff such as cleaners, security guards, IT workers, etc, can win equal pay, pension rights and conditions to in house staff.
  5. End Performance Management – The PMR system is discriminatory and a blunt instrument to get staff out the door. We seek to end guided distribution and scrap performance related pay and believe that non-cooperation with the system needs to be an integral part of any industrial action strategy.

Principles

  1. Rank and file control – Unions should be organised from below and controlled by their members. Decisions should be made by mass workplace meetings. Elected negotiators should have clear mandates on what is and isn’t acceptable, and be recallable if they violate those mandates.
  2. Unity between workers – We seek to organise all workers in our workplaces, not just those in one specific trade/job. This means contractors, cleaners, security guards and so on as well as civil servants. It does not include senior management or scabs.
  3. Cross-union links – We should work alongside workers in other PCS groups and other unions in order to build solidarity and strength. This should be done not from the top down but the bottom up, building democratic, cross-union town and regional rank and file committees.
  4. Equality – We reject artificial divisions between workers on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality or any criteria. Recognising that such classifications serve to build internal oppressions and hierarchies within the working class, we oppose bigotry in all its forms and agree that Your Voice should be a safe space for all.
  5. Direct action – Workers can only improve conditions or win concessions through the use or threat of direct action. At work this means tactics such as strikes, occupations, go-slows and working-to-rule. Workers should seek to collectivise grievances and use direct action to resolve everyday problems as well as major disputes. We oppose “partnership” with the bosses and sham “consultations.”
  6. Solidarity – Solidarity with other workers is the key to victory – workers should support each others’ disputes regardless of any anti-strike laws. We need to approach other workers directly for their support, and where possible attempt to extend our struggles beyond all artificial boundaries. We seek to rebuild a culture where all workers know a picket line is not to be crossed.
  7. Control of funds – Strike funds, levies and hardship funds must be placed under rank and file control. We need these funds to go to workers in struggle and finance industrial action – official or otherwise – and that means fighting funds independent of bureaucratic control.

Membership

Membership of Your Voice is open to all PCS members in HM Revenue & Customs who agree with the Aims and Principles of the organisation.

Membership is barred to the following people:

  • Full time union officials;
  • Scabs.

All members have the right to:

  • Free expression of their ideas;
  • Have their physical and moral integrity respected;
  • Attend all events organised by the Your Voice;
  • Have full access to information about all Your Voice decisions and activities;
  • Remain in disagreement with decisions and activities of Your Voice, so long as they abide by the Aims and Principles.

All members have the duty to participate in Your Voice both locally and nationally and pursue its Aims and Principles to the fullest extent of their ability.

All members are accountable to Your Voice for their actions as individuals. Clear, deliberate, consistent or repeated breaches of the Aims and Principles may lead to disaffiliation.

Structure

i) Officers – Your Voice members will elect a national secretary and treasurer.

  1. The secretary will be responsible for organising the Annual General Meeting and any other national events. This includes compiling the agenda, securing the venue and giving appropriate notice of timetables and deadlines to all members. They will also be responsible for maintaining membership lists and communicating with external contacts.
  2. The treasurer will be responsible for collecting and accounting for all subscriptions, donations, credit notes and pledges. This includes opening and administering a bank account, and circulating payment details to all members. They will provide a financial report for the Annual General Meeting and make payments as mandated by the meeting.

ii) Local groups – In principle, we seek to be organised on a workplace basis, through workplace committees comprising of all Your Voice members in said workplace. Where a workplace committee is not yet feasible, members should organise based on geographical area. Each committee is autonomous, subject to the principles of the organisation, but must be formally accepted by the Annual General Meeting and their makeup should be provided regularly to the national secretary for record keeping. Each committee will elect a treasurer and secretary.

iii) Annual General Meeting – An Annual General Meeting will be held every year in order to elect national officers, to receive reports from the national officers, any other mandated individuals and local groups, and to establish national policy for the coming year. It is the responsibility of all members to ensure that decisions taken are carried out, though named individuals may be mandated to specific tasks.

iv) Right of recall – All elected positions, locally and nationally, shall have a term of one year and shall be delegate positions with no executive power. If two or more branches submit a motion of recall for any such delegate, they shall be subject to a vote amongst the whole membership for their immediate recall and fresh elections to the post.

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