General Meeting: Weds 6th sept (Online)

Notice: workers.coop - General Meeting
Date: Wednesday 6th September
Time: 5pm
Expected duration: 1-1.5 hours
Location: Register or direct zoom link

workers.coop is calling its first General Meeting, where the Board will ask Members to approve a number of urgent changes to our Rules (legal governing document). The changes define and enfranchise Worker Members - including volunteer workers - and simplify the composition of the Board. We also ask Members to confirm that workers.coop is exempt from having to have a formal audit of the annual accounts.

Our first AGM is likely to take place in May 2024.

Until the Rules are changed and we have an on boarding process for Worker Members, only Co-op Enterprise members can vote on the resolutions. However we encourage workers and supporters to attend and give their views.

For reference, the complete Rules of workers.coop Limited are provided as an appendix to this notice, with the proposed Rule changes highlighted in yellow.

We will be using a 1 Member, 1 Vote method for these Special Resolutions, meaning they need the approval 75% of the voting Members to pass.

Co-op Enterprise Members must choose one representative to vote on their behalf but all are welcome to attend.

If your co-op is a Member but it’s unable to send a representative, you can appoint a Proxy to speak and vote on your behalf. The proxy need not be a Member. To appoint a proxy, the Member should provide a valid appointment, in writing, to workers.coop’s Secretary at least two Clear Days before the General Meeting.

Agenda

  1. Welcome
  2. Progress Update
  3. Opportunities for general questions
    4. Formal start of AGM, welcome by “Chair”
  4. Confirmation of quorum
  5. Appointment of Chair (Leigh Galletly, Greencity)
  6. Special Resolution 1: Exemption from Audit

It is resolved that subject to the provisions of section 84 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, the members of the Society shall not require an audit for the accounts covering the current financial year ending on 31/03/2024 when they are presented to the next AGM by hereby electing to disapply section 83 of the Act.

  1. Special Resolution 2: Amendment of rules

Rule 3: To amend the definition “Worker” to read as follows:

"Worker Member " means a natural person over the age of 16 providing their labour for to the Cooperative , whether as an employee, agency worker , c ontractor or volunteer , who has satisfied the conditions for membership, and continues to satisfy the conditions for membership, of the Cooperative in accordance with these Rules; and who has been admitted as a Member of the Cooperative .”

Rule 19: To amend the Rule to read as follows:

In accordance with the Cooperative Principle of voluntary and open membership, whilst the Cooperative shall undertake to encourage its Workers to become Members, membership must be voluntary and as a result cannot be a condition of employment, service contrac t or volunteering agreement.

Rule 87: To amend the Rule to read as follows:

“The Board of Directors shall be elected by and from the Cooperative’s Members. The number of elected Directors serving on the Board shall be seven , or as determined by a general meeting of the Cooperative from time to time.

Rule 88: To amend the Rule to read as follows:

Only candidates nominated by a Cooperative Enterprise Member may stand for elected Directorships.

  1. Closing Remarks

There will be opportunity after the formal end of the AGM for general questions and discussions about the federations activities.

Process

  • Platform: We will use Zoom
  • Checking quorum: We ask reprsentatives to update their name to read “R: [name],[Co-op]”
  • Voting: We intend to vote by show of hands, in which case we will ask observers to turn off their video for ease of counting. However, if it seems necessary we may vote using Zoom’s poll or chat functions
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Just to add for working group members this is mostly procederual stuff discussed in the membership policy consultation, but we need to do the meeting to pass the rule.

But any questions pre-general meeting appreciated and post them here.

Also this is an opportunity to update the wider, less engaged members (assuming they come!) on progress. I’m thinking quick fire updates from a variety of people on their working groups Top 3

  • Achievements so far
  • Lessons learned
  • Upcoming things that are exciting them
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i thought we were also going to amend the rules to add a Supporter category here? or can that happen without a rule change now?

We don’t need to as were not giving supporters any voting rights. Keeps it simpler and can make it easier to design without locking it i to the rules.

We still havent discussed what if anything supporters have to do to be supporters and what if anything they get for being a supporter.

Hi John, thanks for putting this up here.

Is there a place where I can access the whole document? I am sruggling to find it.

I am wondering about remote work (outside UK), and of the insurance Fed will take out for the workers. I am wondering about people volunteering to create documents, but not attend meeting (like me - am I a volunteer or am I a user of a forum?) I want to understand what the definitions are.

Here is the rules with suggested changes

Thank you John.

There is no definition of a volunteer in the rules. This may create the situation where we don’t know who’s got worker’s rights who doesn’t. Who’s a volunteer who isn’t.

And concerned about remote/international work and how fed will be insuring this. I am sure it’s not straightforward.

Some things:
Our Handbook
Membership Policy

Which defines:
Worker Member
Referred to in our Rules as ‘Worker Member’. Sometimes shortened to ‘worker’:

A natural person who contributes their labour (paid or unpaid) to workers.coop, who is formally a Member of a working group, and who has fulfilled the conditions of eligibility for Worker Membership.

Registered supporter
A person who occasionally or informally contributes their time, or otherwise engages in our activities. They might be a Member of one of our Enterprise Members, or someone taking part in one of our campaigns, or someone who contributes financially - but they are not a Worker Member as defined above.

Registered supporters hold no membership voting rights, further work is needed to define what rights and responsibilities they may have in the future.

A few things that I think need following up from last nights meeting.

  1. Rules on voting. These are really needed before another GM. Even to add these into the workers.coop rules, or at east some rules of our meetings. I’m happy to propose something.

It needs to be clear if amendments are allowed (I’d prefer no amendments allowed on the night), then if so how and in what circumstances. Its bad for us not to have clarity, we also spend time discussing voting rules when we could be discussing actual proposals. That also brings a level of unfairness as some people will make suggestions and others wont, because its not clear what to do.

I’d suggest we say no amendments, but put the time into bringing proposals earlier for discussion and amendments, but when on the agenda you either take it or don’t. If you are going to allow them then you need some rules for how and when, e.g;

  • The amendment should be voted on first, then you vote on an amended proposal.
  • The amendment cant substantially change the meaning of the proposal. Otherwise members havent had proper notice of a vote.
  • the Chair has some discretion in allowing or not.
  • Decided if its up to the proposer whether to accept amendments. For example at Suma we would say its up to members not the proposer.
  1. There is a need to give time to discussion around the worker member/individual member section, and potentially then bring change at the next GM. There was some points around this. Perhaps the best way is to actually discuss if the membership policy we have is OK. Even with the rule changes we made its not a given everyone would be a member and could vote, its on the condition they fuflill the criteria in that policy, perhaps making amendments to that would satisfy people.
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This was our first General Meeting and went well considering:

Asking voting reps to change names worked and was nice to have obsevers and clear who they were (at least to me!). Voting also worked but I think if we had a lot more voting members we would need to move away from just visual counting to a poll.

But yes on the resulutions themselves, the issue I think was starting with a typo amendments is fine, but it when from a typo, to a word removal, which although minor could have implications. And then there was a name/definition change suggestion, which really would have opened up a larger discussion.

So yes although we did post the resolutions on the forum and there was some discussion, we need to make this cleaer and enforce that as the way people can make suggestions/amendements so we are not doing it at the GM itself.

This is how we used to approach amendments in a large co-op. However, I think it would be preferable for amendments to be proposed prior to the meeting. I take the matter of being a Representative seriously in a representative democratic approach, I like to be able to consult the members of my co-op where practicable so I cast votes according to the wishes of Co-op Culture not Nathan Brown.

Blockquote

  • The amendment should be voted on first, then you vote on an amended proposal.
  • The amendment can’t substantially change the meaning of the proposal. Otherwise members havent had proper notice of a vote.

I will add this to the long list of things we need to clarify in the ‘decision-making/working together’ policies! :slight_smile:

I didn’t feel comfortable that an amendment was made during the GM. Changes to spelling/grammar errors are ok, but I agree with Ross and Nathan that changes to wording - however small they seem - need to be discussed before the meeting and voted on separately (in a way the seamlessly melds sociocracy and ‘traditional’ voting practices!). There was no time in the meeting to really think about the reason for the proposed change, the risk of leaving the working as it was, or the implications of making the change. These kinds of discussion are really important - not least because they help us to work out who we are in a transparent and democratic way.

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My experience of working with groups around governing documents is that governing docs tend to include wording that is “permissive” but that is sometimes taken as a strategic “commitment to” or “requirement to”. Additionally a particular form of words may not be to people’s liking but is used for reasons of good practice or fitting with legislative requirements. I wonder if, for the “big stuff” we need to consider having opportunities for online discussions to flag these issues and bottom out concerns, in addition to the forum discussion, before a resolution is formulated and put to a GM rather than waiting until we have a resolution put before us. The outcome of online discussions could be provided as an FAQ along with the resolution. Not suggesting we stifle discussion and debate but hope we could have greater consent arrived at before a resolution is proposed. We could even have different options presented as resolutions rather than a binary choice.

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