PCU members meeting regarding PCU status as listed 2/3/19, 11am – 2pm
Present: Shelley Assiter, Richard Bagnall-Oakeley (Chair), Kris Black, Sasha Kaplin (committee), Riva Joffe, Eleanor Lindlar, Juliet Lyons (Secretary), Andrew Price (Treasurer), Milton Sattler (Admin), Kate Shayler (Admin), Reem Shelhi, Audrey West
Apologies: Viviane Carneiro, Victoria Childs, Jane Clements, Phil Cox, Robbie Lockwood
1. In preparation for this meeting:
a) 2 images were brought to the meeting by the committee – one the image made by members during the 2017 AGM of the direction that we would like PCU to go in. The second was a psycho-historical time-line initiated by Audrey in presenting Fredrick Hickling’s psycho-historical model at PCU East London.
b) Richard had asked members to email him with anything that they wanted to bring to the discussion. No emails were received.
c) Andy to present the situation regarding being a listed Union and discussion to follow
a) Discussion about recording our meeting or live-streaming. Many concerns about both of these methods of sharing with other members – especially regarding privacy, confidentiality, and how the viewing members could interact and the impact on 2 tiers of participation on the quality of the conversation. Generally felt that sharing discussion would be more appropriate at the AGM (live streaming).
b) Generally felt that regional structures would be the way forward in terms of reaching and involving more members
3. The current situation:
a) As an unincorporated association (previous structure) PCU was not a legal entity, which meant that individual members could be sued.
b) As we become more involved in workplace disputes and have a seat amongst other organisations that can influence policy around the work we do, it becomes more likely that we may at some point encounter opposition.
4. Presentation of several alternative structures to remaining listed:
a) Charity – as a charity, we would not be able to be political under the Charites Act. If we were so, we would be fined and have our charitable status removed. Present members felt that this was not a viable option considering that campaigning is an important part of what we do and that taking a political stance is something that other therapy organisations struggle to do. It is in part what makes us unique.
b) Limited Company – Momentum for instance is a limited company. We would need directors, guarantors (who would do this?) Concerns that this would create an unhelpful hierachy
c) Community Interest Company – this would be a company that puts profits back into the community. We would need a board of directors. The power would be with the directors. Present members thought this the second-best option.
d) Perhaps important for the membership to know that the most radical Unions are listed Unions
e) To de-list woud simply be by not conforming to the 1992 Trade Union Act and not meet the requirements
5. The rules that will need to be put in place regarding the structure of a Listed Union:
a) A postal ballot if there is a contested election
b) We will need auditors, and an audit book to audit the membership
c) We will need trustees
d) We will need to present our annual accounts and these will need to go out to the membership within 28 days of being audited (?)
e) We will need rules around committee elections
f) We will need winding down procedures
g) We will need rules around how we protect ourselves from each other within the organisation. We do not intend to be heavy-handed with this, but realistic to the possibilities of what we will need
a) We will be more accountable to our membership and others as a listed Union. We recognise that we may also be more suable – the more powerful we are (and appear), the more we may attract those that want to squash us.
7. Being listed in terms of our roles in supporting therapists in the workplace:
a) Originally this was termed peer-support, but as we are developing, much of the work goes beyond this. We are recognising patterns within certain institutions (trainings and workplace) and as a result, we are talking to these institutions about how to better support therapist
b) There is a statutory obligation in workplace disputes to allow a Union representative or work colleague into dispute meetings. As a listed Union, we can respond to this statutory obligation in a way that would not be possible as an unlisted Union
8. Being Certified:
a) This is another stage, beyond being listed: this means that we are certified as independent of employers
b) We have not considered whether we would or wouldn’t take this step as yet
c) Being certified would mean that we could then apply to be part of the TUC. We have not established whether this is something that would be useful to PCU or if this is something that our members want
9. Conclusions and decision making on remaining listed:
a) From the meeting today, all present agreed that we had 2 viable options - one to remain listed and the other to become a Community Interest Company. It was agreed by all present that it was not an option to return to being an unincorporated association. It was pointed out to the committee that points 2 and 3d of our Constitution (‘to promote, protect and further the economic, social, emotional and legal interests of its members in their professional capacity’ and ‘Members shall have no financial liability beyond their liability for their annual subscription’) required us to take action, and not return to being an unincorporated association.
b) The committee will feedback to members today’s discussion and summarise the options and the reasons that we haven’t gone forward with any other solutions. A video summary and discussion on the matter that is available to members
c) We would like to send out a poll to our members to get a feel of where they are on the issues (indicative poll), giving them a list of the options and pros and cons associated with these, asking them to rank the options
d) The final vote on the matter will be at the AGM on 18thMay 2019. The majority will have their say
e) A member offered to chart the history of the PCU in a colourful way (to map it visually).
10. Outcome – all present voted for PCU to remain listed