Our constitution

1: Name Of The Group

The name of the group shall be Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement. The acronym is AWSM, pronounced awesome.

2: Membership

Joining AWSM:

Anyone interested in joining AWSM must: have a high level of agreement with our Aims & Principles, and any position papers we have published; accept the rights and responsibilities of a member (below) and have met at least 1 existing member of AWSM.

If they fulfil these criteria, they can apply, and then the membership of AWSM will vote on whether or not to accept them. Members should keep in mind what would be good for the group, and attempt to put aside personal differences (especially if the prospective member is in a different centre) where these are not relevant to the health of the group. A simple majority of votes recieved is required.

All new members are provisional. Provisional members have the exact same rights and responsibilities as any other member. 6 months after they are accepted as a provisional member, a further vote of AWSM members (who, by now, will have experienced working with this new member) will be taken, and the new member if accepted will cease to be provisional.

Responsibilities of a member:

Attend the annual conference (unless special circumstances prevent it)
Pay dues (unless suffering extreme hardship and agreed with the treasurer)
Participate in the life and activity of AWSM
Where a local branch of AWSM exists in the members area, they should also participate in the life and activity of that local branch
AWSM money is not for the personal usage of any member. If it is proven that someone with access to the bank account has taken money then they will be stripped of their account access and their membership of AWSM will be up for immediate review

Rights of a member:

To be able to take a full and active part in group discussion, decision making and activity
To access information relating to the financial status of the group from the treasurer, excluding personal details of why some people may be paying less dues
To run for any national position
To be able to move for a recall of any national position holder (as per the process in the national positions policy)

If a member has not been active (ie – not visiting the internal forum, not paying dues, not attending local branch meetings) for 3 months (without giving advance notice to the group), they should be contacted by the National Secretary to enquire as to why, and given the options of either resuming activity or leaving the group.

Exclusion of a member:

If any two members feel that a member has acted in a way that means they should be excluded from the group, they should contact the National Secretary and give them the reasons why. The national secretary will then pass this on to the member concerned, who has the right of reply. Both the original exclusion proposal and the reply should then be sent to the entire membership, and a referendum held. A simple majority of the members who vote is required for the member to be excluded from the group. If the National Secretary is the person that people want to exclude, or for some other reason the people pushing for the exclusion feel they cannot go to the NS, then they should go to any other national position holder who should engage with the process. Exclusion should not be taken lightly, and where possible mediation and other methods of conflict resolution should be used.

3: Dues / Funding

Dues are set at 2% of a members income. If a member cannot afford this for a reasonable reason they should talk to the treasurer and come to an agreement on an alternative level of payment. People should pay by direct deposit into the AWSM bank account either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Members withholding dues need to give grounds for doing so to the organisation as a whole unless there are special/personal circumstances in which case the Treasurer alone can be informed.

We should aim to cover most or all of our costs from dues. Any educational events we put on should charge no more than is needed to cover costs (if anything), in order to maximise attendance.

4: National Positions

National positions are appointed every year at the AGM. All members should take a national position at least once every 3 years. No one member should hold any single national position for more than two consecutive years. No one member should hold more than one of National Secretary, Treasurer or International Secretary at any one time.

At any time, any two group members may initiate a recall vote on any position holder. This vote will be made by referendum of all members in the group, requiring a simple majority for the position holder to be recalled.

Any member can nominate themselves for any national position at the AGM. They should give a brief talk about why they want the position and why they think they are suited for it. A simple majority of all members will give them that national position.

Positions and their responsibilities:

Treasurer

Providing financial reports monthly
Arranging dues payments for new members. The treasurer has the responsibility to contact non-dues paying members at least once a month until the situation has been resolved
Disperse funds after decisions have been made (on extraordinary items – excluding regular purchases)
Can disperse up to $50 without asking group for anything they feel is consistent with the groups politics/needs. Any outgoing payments exceeding $50 must be reported to the organisation
All payments must be approved by the Treasurer and one other member who is also a signatory to the AWSM bank account

National Secretary

First point of contact for mail/email from non-members
Punctual replies to all correspondance as necessary
Correspond with other groups in Aotearoa / New Zealand as needed
Collates and mails out to all members the agenda for the annual conference
Sort logistics for internal communications
Keep an up-to-date membership list
Keep an up-to-date media contact list. Send some of what we publish (edited for format if needed) to the media

International Secretary

First point of contact for overseas groups and individuals
would recieve and disseminate international callouts for solidarity (and send them, if needed)
would maintain lines of communications with anarchist-communist groups overseas

Website

Set up, maintain and update website as required
Ensure hosting and domain name are paid for

Newsheet Editorial Collective

Responsible for putting together the monthly newshseet
Responsible for emailing the finished newsheet to all members so they can arrange printing and distribution in their areas for the first week of each month
Responsible for the overall design and layout of the newsheet (either doing it themselves or arranging help from others)
Responsible for ensuring that multiple group members have copies of the software and template used in case they can’t do an issue
Responsible for encouraging submissions from members
Responsible for facilitating a group process for the selection of articles

Magazine Editorial Collective

Responsible for putting together the theoretical magazine according to timetable decided by the group
Responsible for the layout and design of the magazine (either doing it themselves or arranging help from others)
Responsible for organising printing of the magazine and for distribution to group members
Responsible for encouraging submissions from members
Responsible for facilitating a group process for the selection of articles

Subscriptions Officer

Responsible for maintaining a database of subscribers (individuals, groups, bookshops etc) both in Aotearoa / New Zealand and overseas for both the newssheet and the magazine
Responsible for maintaining a list of pamphlets we stock (and keeping some in stock at all times)
Responsible for sending copies of the relevant publications to subscribers
Responsible for sending copies of any requested pamphlets out
Responsible for liasing with the treasurer to ensure payment for subscriptions/pamphlets has been recieved, where necessary

5: Internal Education

A segment of all conferences and branch meetings should include an educational workshop/talk/film
Where possible, these should be recorded (audio, video or written up) and made available for members not at the conference / in a different branch, and for people outside the organisation

6: Code Of Conduct

Treat people with respect / don’t be a dick. This includes to other groups – if you want to debate/argue, do it on politics, not personality (unless personality is really relevant to what is being discussed)
Be able to debate without giving or taking it personally – a political criticism is not the same as a personal one
We do not tolerate sexism, racism, homophobia, sexual / emotional / physical abuse

7: Decision Making

The annual conference is the highest decision making body of the organisation. In between conferences, the internal discussion forum is the decision making body.

Funds must always be available for people who need help with the cost of travelling to the annual conference (if we don’t have enough, we commit to doing fundraising specifically for this). This is so the conference can maintain its legitimacy as the highest decision making body, and because it is our only chance to all get together.

For now, we are individual members of the national organisation. A local branch exists where 3 or more members of AWSM live in the same centre, and are recognised by the membership of AWSM as a local branch.

We recognise that this may need to be changed in the future if/when we have a large number of branches containing the vast majority of members.

Policy is set at a national level. We decide as a national group what we want to be involved in. Obviously, local groups can add locally relevant activity to this if they wish, and have autonomy in the prioritisation of the various campaigns/projects we are involved in according to their local abilities and needs

All proposals to be put forward for discussion at the annual conference must be sent to the National Secretary in time for the Nat Sec to send the agenda and proposals for discussion to all members one month before the conference.

Changes to the constitution, aims and principles and changes / adoption of position papers can only occur at the annual conference or Special General Meeting. They require the agreement of 75% of the people participating in the vote on that remit (with the explicit understanding that abstentions do not count as ‘participating in the vote’). There must also be a quorum present at the conference, which is 66% of all members. A Special General Meeting with the same powers as the AGM can be called when 50% of all members write to the National Secretary calling for an SGM, and all members are given 2 months written notice. If a vote fails because of a lack of quorum, the member/s that proposed the change can choose to have a referendum. The National Secretary will coordinate the referendum, which will include all members recieving the proposal, arguments for it (written by the proposers) and arguments against (written by a volunteer “no” voter)

While we welcome the thoughts of people who cannot attend the conference, proxy votes of those not present cannot be accepted, as we feel this negates the value of debate and discussion at the conference itself (ie – someone who sends a proxy is essentially saying it is impossible to have their mind changed).

Our ballots are not secret.

Forum decision making process:

Proposer puts up the proposal in the Decision Making forum, with a poll
Proposer emails the internal list to say “decision needed, I’ve put a proposal up about xxxxxx xxxxx”
The post should also have a deadline for decision – at least 1 week. Where an urgent decision is needed, a shorter time is possible however the proposer must ensure all members are contacted by phone/text message to let them know
In order for a decision to be made, at least 50% of members must vote, and a simple majority must be in favour

People have the right to hold their own politics that differ from the groups, but they must make clear that this is not group position (eg if writing an article for public consumption). Internal arguments should remain internal.

8: Newssheet

All articles for the newssheet are on the internal AWSM forum one week prior to the layout date (as given by the editorial collective), unless there are exceptional circumstances. Members have the ability to force a vote on any given article if they feel it contradicts the aims and principles, with a simple majority required for the article to be withheld from publication.

– AWSM, August 2010