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Principles and Constitution of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network (Ireland)
by Syndicalist Solidarity Network
02 Sep 2005
"The Syndicalist Solidarity Network seeks to secure for all workers, a full and equal share of the wealth and social benefits created by the combined labour of our class. The Syndicalist Solidarity Network also seeks to secure a full and equal role for all workers in decision making processes in our workplaces and throughout society as a whole."
Aims and Principles of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network
1) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network is a working class organisation.
2) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network seeks to secure for all workers, a full and equal share of the wealth and social benefits created by the combined labour of our class. The Syndicalist Solidarity Network also seeks to secure a full and equal role for all workers in decision making processes in our workplaces and throughout society as a whole.
3) The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. Between those two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organise as a class and take possession of the machinery of production. Thus replacing the state, capitalism and wage slavery with industrial democracy, direct workers control of industry and society, ensuring production and distribution for need - not profit.
4) It is the aim of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network to highlight attacks being directed against the working class, in our workplaces and communities, and to organise and promote resistance to any such attacks by use of direct action. Direct action is any form of struggle under the direct control of those involved, without reliance on politicians, Trades Union bureaucrats or any other would be leaders acting on our 'behalf'.
5) We advocate direct workers control of their struggles and oppose any sell outs by the Trades Union bureaucracy.
6) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network takes an active part within the existing labour movement, agitating in defence of pay and working conditions, while helping to build a spirit of confidence amongst our fellow workers in order that we may, together, go on the offensive against the bosses.
7) We oppose the sectionalism which exists in our workplaces between different grades of worker. This sectionalism is often reinforced by the existence of several Trades Unions and is promoted and ruthlessly exploited by the employer. Meaningful solidarity will overcome existing Trades Union barriers.
8) We reject the notion, propagated by Government, the employers and the Trades Union bureaucracy, of 'Social Partnership' between workers, bosses and government. The bosses are not our partners.
9) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network works towards the formation of industrially organised Revolutionary Syndicalist Unions in order that we may become better organised in our struggle against the bosses. Any such unions must be under the direct control of their members. In order to assure full participation in and control over our organisation by its membership we oppose centralism with libertarian federalism whereby all decisions are made directly by the membership.
10) Organising industrially we shall cut across the barriers of trades sectionalism in order to more effectively unite workers in their common struggle. Such unions will build effective class organisation in order not only to win improvements within Capitalism but ultimately to win the class war with its overthrow through the Social General Strike. The Social General Strike is the means by which workers shall take control of our land, factories and workplaces it is the start of a truly social revolutionary transformation of society.
11) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network rejects Parliamentary Democracy and Party Politics as at best a distraction and a sham. We are not in the business of building, nor do we support any, political parties. The interests of the working class cannot be pursued in the halls of political power and intrigue, our real strength lies in our communities and, even more so, at the point of production.
12) Party political interests, nationalism and sectarianism, divide our class and turn us against one another while the bosses inflict defeat after defeat upon us. Likewise, we cannot tolerate any divisions based on bigotry and ignorance which stand against equality and the right of people to control their own lives. We must organise along class lines if we are to secure a better future for ourselves, our fellow workers and society as a whole.
13) The Syndicalist Solidarity Network rejects the notions of various 'left-wing' parties, the would be 'vanguards' of the working class, that the state can be 'conquered' and used against the bosses. Government, no matter on whose behalf, has always rested on domination and exploitation, it is an inherently repressive institution and as such beyond reform. The basic function of the state - that is the courts and prisons, the army and police, civil service and other state institutions - is to defend the interests of the bosses. Government is a top down institution which puts power into the hands of the few. All efforts at creating a 'Workers state' have only led to further oppression of the workers themselves as those in power consolidated and strengthened their positions.
14) Our class exists the world over, and we have a common struggle the world over. We are therefore internationalists, opposing all political and geographic borders, and instead organising with other workers towards world-wide workers unity in face of global capital and government oppression.
15) Capitalism is causing untold damage to our environment in the name of ever increasing profit. We defend our environment against capitalist exploitation.
Constitution of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network
The name of the organisation is the Syndicalist Solidarity Network.
The Syndicalist Solidarity Network is independent of and opposed to the party political system and the state.
Decisions affecting the policies and activities of the Federation as a whole are reached at the General Assembly, which shall take place annually.
Procedures for the General Assembly: "i) Election of facilitator/chairperson of the meeting from the members present. ii) Election of minute-taker from the members present at the meeting. iii) Approval of the agenda and last minute amendments. iv) Decision making process: Procedure for approval or denial of motion - Motion/agenda item is presented to the General Assembly in written or verbal form. The facilitator/chairperson then asks for a second to the motion. If there is no second the motion has failed and the facilitator/chairperson then moves on to the next item. If there is a second the facilitator/ chairperson then opens the floor to discussion by the General Assembly.
The facilitator/chairperson will take names in order of hands raised to speak. If the General Assembly requests it, the facilitator/chairperson can allow a "go around" for everyone who wishes to speak on the motion in the order of their seating. The facilitator/chairperson should allow two rounds of discussion for the group to try and reach consensus on the issue.
The facilitator can ask the General Assembly if there has been enough discussion on the issue. If there are no objections to passing the motion, it can be considered passed by acclamation by the group. If there are objections and more discussion is needed, the facilitator must allow for more discussion. At any time after one or two rounds of discussion a member of the group can motion to "call the question" by majority vote of the General Assembly. The facilitator must stop all discussion and take a simple majority vote or "straw poll" on whether to vote on the issue immediately. A member moving to "call the question" is not allowed additional debate on the issue added to their "calling the question".
Decisions are to be reached following full debate by the entire membership. While consensus should be attempted in reaching decisions it will not always be possible. In such cases a majority decision is taken by show of hands. One member one vote - the facilitator/chairperson shall not have a casting vote. A majority shall be 50% plus 1.
The facilitator/chairperson will first call for a show of hands of those "in favour" of the motion to be counted as a YES vote. Then call for those "opposed" to the motion to be counted as NO votes. Finally, the facilitator/chairperson will call for "abstentions", votes from members who don't feel they can make a decision on the motion, but who will allow the group to vote on the issue without their YES or NO vote. An abstention will not be counted as a YES or NO vote. If the abstentions out weight the YES and NO votes combined the facilitator/chairperson must ask the General Assembly to revisit the question at the next meeting to allow more time for debate.
Members may ask the person presenting the original motion to accept friendly amendments to their motion. The presenter can accept or decline these amendments.
Alternative motions can be presented during the discussion of the original motion. The facilitator/chairperson must recognise that motion and have the minute-taker record the alternative motion if an other member seconds it. The facilitator/chairperson must not allow discussion on alternative motions until a vote is taken on the original.
The original presenter of a motion can decide to "withdraw" their motion in favour of another alternative motion for any reason they see fit.
A member can ask the facilitator/chairperson to give a relevant point of information or question the process during a discussion.
If the facilitator/chairperson or a member feels that discussion of a motion is becoming redundant and motions to "call the question" have not been allowed, a motion to "table" the discussion until the next convenient meeting can be considered in order by the facilitator/chairperson.
Once a motion has been PASSED, FAILED, WITHDRAWN or TABLED, it must be recorded in the minutes by the minute-taker. Being of a democratic nature, the General Assembly, will allow any previous decisions taken to be re-addressed at any future General Assembly in light of further information and discussion.
v) A motion to adjourn the General Assembly can be deemed "in order" by the facilitator/chairperson at any time. This is of course dependant on the constraints of travel and time placed upon members attending the General Assembly."
All members should endeavour to attend the General Assembly. In circumstances where this is not possible the Local, Industrial Branch, Regional or Industrial Federation can nominate (a) delegate(s) to represent their view(s) to the Federation. Individual members may also submit written proposals/amendments to the General Assembly or provide a nominated member in attendance with a written mandate to represent their views to the Federation.
The agenda for the General Assembly is to be drawn up by the membership in the year prior to the date of the General Assembly, through the Internal Bulletin, and finalised one month before that date.
Representatives of the Federation will be elected at the General Assembly and hold their posts for a period of one year. All such posts are unpaid and accountable to the membership. Post holders will be subject to the mandate of the Federation and are recallable at any time by means of a duly convened Emergency General Assembly or by referendum through the Internal Bulletin.
Decisions of the General Assembly are binding on all members, Local and Industrial Branches, and Regional and Industrial Federations. Individuals and minority groups opposed to any decisions of the membership expressed through the General Assembly will have full access to the Internal Bulletin to present their case and may, of course, attempt to overturn any decisions at the next General Assembly. Neither party to any disagreement should manipulate or exacerbate differences of opinion so far as to provoke antagonism and ill feeling within the Federation. All such debates should be carried out in a comradely and self disciplined fashion.
A date for the next General Assembly shall be set at the end of the sitting General Assembly.
Emergency General Assembly's
In the case of any internal or external matter which can damage the Federation as a whole, and upon which a decision has to be taken by the Federation as soon as possible, an Emergency General Assembly can be called between normally convened General Assembly's.
A minimum of two Locals and/or Industrial Branches, or at least 6 members, can call for such a meeting through the Internal Bulletin. A date will be set for an Emergency General Assembly as soon as possible, but in order that proper and informed discussion and debate can take place throughout the Federation not earlier than one month after the request is made.
The Emergency General Assembly will have the same procedures as the General Assembly.
Communication and Decision Making between General Assembly's
Communication between the membership, Locals, Industrial Branches and Regional/Industrial Federations shall be accommodated through the Internal Bulletin.
Locals, Industrial Branches and individual members can communicate without reporting such communication to the Secretariat.
On local and workplace levels Locals and Industrial Branches are free to take their own decisions insofar as those decisions do not breach the aims and principles or constitution of the Federation as a whole.
On specific issues, Locals, Industrial Branches or individuals members can make a request through the Internal Bulletin or by mail or email to the membership.
In the case of a matter requiring a decision making process at Federal level a request shall be made, through the Internal Bulletin, to put the matter to a referendum.
If recourse to an Emergency General Assembly is necessary this should be dealt with as set out above.
Membership is open to all workers who understand and are in agreement with the Aims and Principles, the Constitution and the spirit of the movement.
All members have an equal voice in the decision making of the Federation.
The Federation is financed by a system of membership dues.
All members shall pay dues, The rate for dues is to be set at the General Assembly.
Current levels of dues are: £5.00 per week employed (over £5.00 per hour) £2.50 per week low waged/minimum waged £1.00 per week unemployed/student
Dues are based on the amount of money we need to function as an organisation. As membership levels increase every effort shall be made to decrease the level of individual dues thus spreading the financial burden for the upkeep of our organisation.
It shall be decided at each General Assembly how the resources available to the Federation for the coming year are to be best allocated.
A financial report shall be included in each Internal Bulletin.
Locals and Industrial Branches
The Local and the Industrial Branch must, in order to apply for affiliation to the Federation: i) Have at least three members ii) Agree with the Aims and Principles of the Federation iii) meet at least once a month iv) have a permanent and public postal address
All Locals and Industrial Branches shall receive the help and support of the Federation, on request, insofar as is practically possible.
Locals and Industrial Branches may form Regional or Industrial Federations with other Locals and Industrial Branches of the Federation.
Regional and Industrial Federations will decide their own structure, meeting times, activities and tasks, delegation processes and finances.
A Local or Industrial Branch, Regional or Industrial Federation, can be expelled from the Federation for breaking the Aims and Principles of the organisation or in the case of its taking action which is damaging to the Federation as a whole. In such circumstances charges must be made by at least two Locals or Industrial Branches or a minimum of 6 individual members. After full and proper discussion with all of the parties being afforded equal opportunity to express their case and present evidence the matter of expulsion will be voted on by the entire membership. A 75% or greater majority is required to expel a Local or Industrial Branch, Regional or Industrial Federation.
The Secretariat has no power over the internal affairs of Locals or Industrial Branches nor those of any Regional or Industrial Federations.
Posts in the Secretariat are elected at the General Assembly, for one year, and are recallable at any time by a referendum of the membership or at a duly convened Emergency General Assembly. No one person can hold any one post for more than 2 years consecutively.
Posts at present are:
i) Secretary: Responsible for communication within the Federation and is charged with recording the reports and minutes of meetings at Federal level and with production of the Internal Bulletin. The secretary will include a report every three months in the Internal Bulletin
ii) Treasurer: Is charged with the keeping of up to date records of dues and bank account(s) as decided necessary by the membership. The treasurer will not, in any case, use or authorise the use of any of the Federations money's without the consent of the membership. The treasurer must produce a financial report every three months in the Internal Bulletin.
iii) International Secretary: Is responsible for maintaining communication with any organisations as decided by the membership at the General Assembly, or by referendum. The international secretary will have to produce a report every three months in the Internal Bulletin.
At present the membership has mandated our duly elected serving treasurer to open and maintain two separate bank accounts.
Primarily a current account into which all membership dues, money raised from book stalls and sales of pamphlets and magazines, shall be lodged. Payments for the day to day running of the organisation, production of propaganda, and other expenditure as decided upon by the membership, to be made from this account.
Also a savings account, known as the Mutual Aid Fund, which is to be maintained through voluntary donations from members, in order to help cover the travelling expenses of members, where such costs place a prohibitive financial burden on those members, attending meetings outside their own locality.
The Internal Bulletin is the primary organ of internal communication and education across the organisation.
The Internal Bulletin must contain:
i) The minutes of the General Assembly, Emergency General Assembly or any other Federal meeting
ii) Reports from the secretary, treasurer and international secretary
iii) Reports from Locals, Industrial Branches and Federations
iv) The agenda of the next General Assembly
v) New contacts vi) A list of events (calendar)
vii) Notices from individuals or Locals/Branches which choose to withdraw from the Federation
All members are free to contribute to the Internal Bulletin.
The Internal Bulletin should be issued every three months and sent to all members.
The secretary is responsible for the collection of the necessary reports and the production of the Internal Bulletin.
The Internal Bulletin can also be used to call a referendum in cases where the Federation must reach a decision before the next General Assembly.
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