The ‘how to’ guide on annual general meetings
An AGM is an essential meeting – usually the most important meeting of the Union branch - that takes place once a year. It is open to all members of the branch.
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.
- advice on organising AGMs;
- suggested procedure and timetable
- guidance to help you improve attendance at meetings
- information about administration
Just before the year ends and certainly by the New Year, branches should start to plan their AGM and writing their annual report to members.
The purpose of an AGM
- To bring members together to participate in electing their representatives and endorsing policies they wish the branch to pursue
- To receive and endorse branch and group annual reports, statements of accounts (1 January to 31 December) and financial report
- To announce the results of branch officer and branch executive committee (BEC) elections which have to be conducted prior to the AGM (as set out in PCS rules)
- To elect branch women’s/equal opportunities advisory committee
- To elect delegates to group conference and annual delegate conference (ADC) and any other body in which the branch participates, such as a local trades council
- To consider nominations for group and national executive elections
- To consider motions for the branch, group conference and ADC
- To receive a presentation/speech from a guest speaker.
All branches have an agreed constitution. 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).
Annual report (AR)
This is a written record of what the branch has done over the last year. The AR should cover issues such as:
- Reports from chair and secretary
- Recruitment and prganising report (including membership figures)
- Equality report;
- Health and safety report
- Learning report
- Any reports from sub-committees set up
- Campaign report (illustrate any and all of your successes during the year).
- Financial report and statement of accounts
You must send a notice to members of the AGM and the agenda.
To ensure members can take part, you need to produce and circulate posters and flyers to advertise the date, venue and importance of the AGM. Also issue reminders nearer the date of the AGM.
Consider the following points:
- 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 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
- Co-ordinate transport if a group of people are travelling from a different location.
If you need any help with organising your AGM, please contact one of the following:
- Your regional or group office
For a PCS national guest speaker contact:
- The President’s office for Senior lay officers or NEC members on 0207 801 2105
- The General Secretary's office for the General Secretary or Assistant General Secretary on 0207 801 2623
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 as well as occupational rights to attend union meetings.
At the AGM
The meeting should be relaxed and friendly. The atmosphere should not be confrontational. Neither should it be overly procedural, despite the formal business that is necessary e.g. reports and elections.
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, with the assistance of the branch scrutineers (or tellers appointed at the meeting):
- Conduct any election held at the meeting
- Call for votes on any nominations for non branch elections
- Call for all motions accepted on to the agenda.
After the AGM
After the AGM the following points should be actioned:
- Send details of motions for your Group conference and nominations for your Group Executive Committee (GEC) positions to the Group office
- Send motions to Annual Delegate Conference online via the PCS website
- Nominations for NEC positions must be emailed or posted as per regulations published in January of the election year
- The Branch Chair & Secretary must sign the forms before you return them
Your new BEC
You will need to ensure you have 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 or advocates to cover all the workplaces of your branch (particularly in any workplaces that have no Workplace Rep)
- Health and 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 ‘Whitley’ (where applicable)/joint negotiating committee/ trade union side (TUS)
- Equalities officer
- Young members representative
- Green representative
- Learning coordinator.
Branch secretaries should update changes in branch representatives through PCS Digital and notify their group office. You should also notify members of branch representatives and officers for the year ahead (e.g. through circulation of a notice board poster for each workplace), along with contact details. You should also inform local managers where appropriate.