Annual general meetings (AGM) guide

Introduction

This guide aims to assist branches in organising Annual General Meetings (AGMs).

It will be particularly useful for new branch officers who have not organised an AGM before.

It includes:

  • advice on organising AGMs;
  • suggested procedure and timetable;
  • guidance to help you improve attendance at meetings;
  • information about administration;
  • samples of paperwork you can adapt for use in your branch.

The AGM

Late on each year and certainly by the New Year, branches should start to plan their AGM and writing their annual report.

[The advice & examples below, makes reference to Groups.  Branches that belong to our branch based Occupational Associations (CMSOA(Culture)/Commercial Sector or Public Sector group) will need to adapt these slightly to suit the existing arrangements within their Associations.]

The purpose of an AGM is to:

  • Receive and endorse Branch and Group Annual Reports, Statements of Accounts and Financial Report;
  • Announce the results of Branch Officer & Branch Executive Committee (BEC) elections which have to (as set out in PCS rules) be conducted prior to the AGM;
  • Elect Branch Womens’/Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee and Branch Delegates to Group Conference & National Conference and any other body in which the Branch participates e.g. District Trades Council;
  • Consider nominations for Group and National elections;
  • Consider motions for the Branch, Group Conference and National Conference;
  • Receive a presentation/speech from a Branch or Guest Speaker.

A model AGM Agenda and posts available for election are Annexes to this guide and are available to download.

  Model AGM notice, forms and agenda

All AGM’s need to follow a constitution, please check your constitution before organising your AGM.

The details below follow the model constitution which is set out as Appendix B of the National PCS Rules. The model should be followed if your Branch does not have its own constitution that has been approved (ratified) by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

An annual report

An Annual Report is a written record of the branch’s activities for the year.  The Annual report should cover issues such as: -

  • Chair and Secretary’s reports;
  • Recruitment, Organisation and Membership Figures;
  • Equal Opportunities Report;
  • Health & Safety Report;
  • Any reports from Sub-committees;
  • Any other relevant Branch issues (i.e. issues the Branch has engaged local management upon or in response to Branch motions from previous AGMs not included elsewhere in the Annual Report);
  • Campaigning reports (illustrate any and all of your successes during the year).

Statement of Accounts & Financial Report

A standard Statement of Account form is sent to Treasurers every year by the PCS Finance Department. This should be completed and presented to the AGM by the Treasurer for members to approve.  The Chair should field questions from the membership about any entries or anomalies raised by members.

View the treasurers toolkit

The Accounts should be made available to the membership in advance of the AGM.

A financial report should also be prepared in advance of the AGM.  It should summarise Branch finances and contain all the income and expenditure for the branch over the total year.

All accounts should be ratified by the Branch Chair and checked by the Branch Auditors who should be independent of the Branch Executive Committee and elected by members.

Completed Statement of Accounts forms should be forwarded to PCS HQ (together with any budget bid) for audit and approval.  This should be done by the 31st January each year.  Please note that delays could result in your Branch’s rebate from HQ being suspended.

Further details on this can be found within the treasurers toolkit.

Encouraging Members to Attend

In addition to the more formal papers you need to circulate, do produce posters and fliers to remind members of the date, venue and importance of the AGM.  You should also consider the following tips: -

Consider provision of refreshments before the meeting and/or holding a social afterwards;

Invite a guest speaker on a topic of interest;

Make sure reports and contributions build around members’ concerns and interests;

Ensure full disabled access to the meeting, including provision of signing, hearing induction loops etc if needed;

Ensure the venue is easily accessible by public transport and let people know how to get there;

Ensure the venue is not off putting to any groups of members, for example some members may not feel comfortable meeting in a pub;

Find out what time and venue is most convenient for members - this may mean holding a series of meetings at different times and locations and then aggregating the votes from the different meetings;

Where possible, make arrangements for members with caring commitments;

Make sure your AGM publicity makes clear any paid facility time agreed with your employer;

Coordinate transport if a group of people are travelling from a different location.

Contacts

If you need any help with organising your AGM, please contact one of the following:-

  • Your Regional Organiser;
  • Your Group Office;

Or if you would like to book a PCS National Guest Speaker, please contact: -

  • The President’s Office at PCS HQ, for Senior lay Officers or NEC members;
  • Or for the Senior Elected Full Time Officers (GS, DGS & AGS) on 0207 801 2623.

Timetable

December

Write your Branch Annual Report – it does not need to be too ambitious as members are more likely to read a brief record.  Branch Officers and BEC members should be invited to contribute in their respective areas.

Set a date for the AGM.  This should be in advance of the closing date for nominations and motions to Group & National elections and conferences.

Try to book a day when the majority of membership can attend (i.e. consider Part time staff and those located in workplaces/offices furthest from your venue).

Book the accommodation for the meeting.  Bear in mind any disabled members and also make arrangement for those who have special needs (e.g. visual/hearing impairments).

If you intend to book a guest speaker for your AGM please remember that Group and National Officers get booked quickly for meetings.

You will probably also need to clear arrangements with your local management with reference to your departmental or local facilities agreement/arrangements.  Groups will normally provide advice to their Branches on this and you should seek support where managers unreasonably refuse requests for facilities. Members and reps have legislative aswell as occupational rights to attend union meetings.

January

Submit branch accounts to Branch Auditors and once cleared to PCS HQ by 31 January.

National election briefings and requests for Group nominations are issued usually in January.  National election briefings will also be posted on the PCS website.

At least 28 days before the AGM

Notice of the AGM should be sent out to members calling for nominations and motions.

The AGM notice should include the date, time and venue of the meeting.  It should also include details of any guest speakers.  The motion and nomination forms should be attached to this notice and circulated to members on a 1: 1 basis.

The Annual and Financial reports should be finalised and circulated.  The audited Statement of Accounts Form should be attached.

21 days before the AGM

Will be the closing dates for motions and nominations.

Between 21 days and the AGM

You will need to conduct an election for any contested Branch Officer and Branch Executive Committee posts. The precise details and timings for this can be determined by your Branch. This will depend on the specific organisational structure and composition of your Branch.

These arrangements and timetable should be formally agreed by your BEC.

You will also need to decide and make arrangements for any election you hold at the AGM itself.

14 days before AGM

Issue the agenda with minutes of the last Annual General Meeting and attach any details of motions and nominations.  (See attached model agenda).

Explain to members why it is important to attend and what will be discussed.

Prepare the publicity for the AGM, e.g. Posters, fliers to remind members of the AGM and again, stress the importance of attending the meeting to members.

7 days before the AGM

Any constituency (where contained in your Branch constitution) should have conducted its member’s meeting and elected its representatives.

To advertise the AGM: -

  • Put up reminder posters & issue a reminder flier;
  • Issue a reminder by e-mail;
  • Urge all representatives to encourage members to attend.

At the AGM

Whilst there will be formal business (agreeing reports and conducting some elections etc) to deal with, the meeting should be as relaxed and friendly as possible. The atmosphere should not be aggressive or overly procedural. Members should be encouraged to take an active part in discussion. However, any procedures and deadlines set out in branch rules and any standing orders should be adhered to.

Members should be asked to formally endorse the Annual Report and Statement of Accounts.

The Branch Chair should formally announce the outcomes of: -

  • Branch positions that were unopposed in the nomination process (i.e. elected unopposed);
  • All elections conducted by the Branch in advance of the AGM.

The Branch Chair should also conduct, with the assistance of the Branch Scrutineers (or tellers appointed at the meeting), any election held at the meeting as well as calling for votes on any nominations for non Branch elections and all motions.

After the AGM

Send details of motions for your Group Conference and nominations for your Group Executive Committee positions to the Group Office.

Send any motions to Annual Delegate Conference and/or Nominations in National Elections to PCS HQ.

The Branch Chair & Secretary must sign the forms before you return them.

In addition to the nomination and election processes you have now completed, your new BEC will need to ensure you have in place or should appoint a range of representatives to cover various roles and responsibilities.  A precise list may depend on the composition/structure of your Branch and the policies of your Group.  The following are suggested for consideration: -

  • Distributors to cover all the workplaces of your Branch;
  • Health & Safety Reps to cover all the workplaces of your Branch;
  • Union Learning Reps to cover all the workplaces of your Branch;
  • Representatives to your Branch’s ‘Whitley’/Joint Negotiating Committee/Local trade union side;
  • Branch Equalities Officer;
  • Young Member’s Representative;
  • Branch Green Representative;
  • Make Your Vote Count Coordinator;
  • Union Learning Coordinator.

Make sure you provide details of changes in your Branch representatives to your Group Office to ensure Commix records are updated.  Branches should be notified by their Group or Association how this will be done.  (Branch Secretaries may also choose to do this themselves via iMembership ).

You will need to notify Management of new representatives and Officers for the year ahead.

Ensure all members are given a list of reps and their role or constituency and details of how to contact them.

Make arrangements to produce a branch plan for the coming year, for discussion by your BEC.

Motions, Nominations, Elections, etc.

Nominations for all posts and motions should be proposed and seconded by individual members of the Branch.  Additionally, Motions may be put to AGMs by the agreement, at properly convened meetings, of the BEC and in advance of the advertised deadline for submission.  (Your GEC or the NEC may, on some occasions, ask Branches to put motions to AGMs, normally around key campaigning and bargaining issues.)

Motions

Branches are encouraged to debate motions:-

  • dealing with branch issues (to be taken forward by incoming Branch Executive Committee [BEC]);
  • on Group issues, to submit to Group Conference (and to be taken forward by the incoming GEC);
  • on National issues, to submit to Annual Delegate Conference (and to be taken forward by the incoming NEC).

A model form for submitting motions to the AGM is provided with this guide.

Motions to Group and Annual Delegate Conference must be submitted on the official form and signed by the Chair & Secretary of the Branch and be received in the Group/National Office on the closing date set out in your Group’s and in National Briefings.

Nominations

Nominations for National and Group elections are called for early each January.  The closing date for nominations is normally early in March.

Branches are positively encouraged to nominate members from groups (women, young members, disabled or ethnic minority members, Lesbian Gay Bisexual or Transgender members) who are currently under-represented on any committee or body to which your Branch makes nominations.

Nominations must be received at the Group Office/National Conference Arrangements Office on the official nomination form, sent to Branch Secretaries.  These must be signed by the Chair and Secretary of the nominating branch.

Nominations for Branch positions should be called for along the timetable set out in your Branch constitution.  The timetable set out in the PCS model Branch Constitution is described earlier in this guide and a model Nominations form and list of available posts are also provided with this guide.

Elections

The details (timetables and voting) for Group and National Elections are sent to all participating Branches as Branch Briefings.

Branch (and any other local) elections need to be arranged by Branch Officers, in conjunction with the elected Branch Scrutineers.  BECs should be given an opportunity to formally approve the arrangements and timetable.  It is important that elections are clearly fair and equitable to all candidates.

You are encouraged to consider giving candidates an opportunity to provide a written election address.  You should specify the maximum number of words that each candidate be allowed and ensure that a deadline date for their submission is adhered to.

There are two types of election you may have to plan for: -

  1. Senior/local representatives of constituencies, branch executive committee members and branch officers must be elected by secret, individual ballot of the members they cover (See Principle Rules 3 and 4).  The outcome of these elections to be announced at the AGM;
  2. Elections for other Branch positions can be held at the AGM itself.

Whilst it may be possible to deal with elections held at the AGM by ‘show of hands’, you may wish to consider producing voting papers if the numbers involved or make up of your Branch means that ‘show of hands’ may prove more time consuming and thus restricting time for other business such as debating motions or hearing speakers.

For secret, individual ballots of members you will need to produce a timetable that allows for:

  • The candidate to confirm their acceptance of nomination (and potentially submit an election address);
  • Production and circulation to all member of a voting paper and instructions on how to vote;
  • Provision (and oversight by Scrutineers) of Ballot Boxes;
  • A closing date that enables members the maximum opportunity to vote, whilst ensuring Scrutineers have sufficient time to check the planned arrangements were adhered to and produce an election result to the Branch Chair in advance of the AGM.

Arrangements need to be made to ensure that all individual members get a reasonable opportunity to vote that is not dependant on attending a meeting and that they can only vote once.  (E.g. Ballot papers to be numbered and signed for by members.)

Any un-issued ballot papers and all ballot boxes (or other places/means by which members return their vote) should be under the control of the branch scrutineers until they produce the result of the election.

Mandating meetings

These meetings are a fundamental part of the democratic process.  Their purpose is to mandate (instruct) conference delegates on how to vote at Group and National delegate conference.  Delegates can be mandated on how to vote on motions at conference and in elections held by block vote, such the Standing Orders Committee (SOC).

This meeting needs to be held from the date motion booklets are received up to the day before Group or Annual Delegate Conference.  Arrangements and notice should be given to members in a similar style as for your AGM.

Conference venues

Please see National and Group briefings for further details on this and conference arrangements in general.  These details will be posted on the PCS website when they are available.

Your Branch will be asked in these briefings to inform us centrally about your Branch Delegates and any requirements they may have.  Please ensure you comply with the deadlines, which greatly assist the smooth running of conference and providing your delegates with their expenses and other key paperwork.

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