Constitution of the Universal Credit Claimants Union

ARTICLE I – NAME AND PURPOSE

Section 1. This organisation shall be known as The Universal Credit Claimants Union. 

Section 2. The purpose of this organisation is to improve the lives of its members through practical support and solidarity, to fight for the reform and abolition of Universal Credit and to publicise the reality of claimants’ experience of the system. 

ARTICLE II – MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. Anyone eligible for Universal Credit can be a member of the UCCU provided their actions and words are not incompatible with the aims and principles of this union. 

Section 2. No eligible individual shall be excluded from the UCCU by any criterion other than overt action that is harmful to solidarity or inconsistent with the purpose of the UCCU.

Section 3. Members of this union who become ineligible for Universal Credit must inform their local group and relinquish membership. 

Section 4. Membership will be extended for a period of one year on first payment of dues. 

Section 5. Only paid up Members of a the Local Group shall be included in the assessment of consensus.

ARTICLE III – REGISTERED SUPPORTERS

Section 1. Anyone can be a Registered Supporter of the UCCU provided their actions and words are not incompatible with the aims and principles of this union. 

Section 2. Dues for Registered Supporters will be the same as membership dues. 

Section 3. Registered Supporters shall be kept fully informed by their Local Delegate of the activities of the UCCU, except the meetings of local groups. 

ARTICLE IV – DUES

Section 1. Membership dues for 2019 shall be set at £1.00 per month.

Section 2. Dues are to increase annually in line with inflation and should be rounded to the nearest 50 pence. 

ARTICLE V – ORGANISATION

Section 1. The UCCU shall be composed of members brought together in an organisation of Local Groups and Area Assemblies coordinated by Local and Area delegates and registered supporters and volunteer support workers coordinated by Local and Area Delegates.  

Section 2. All delegates shall be elected by the mutual agreement (consensus) of the group or assembly to whom they are responsible.  

Section 3. The maximum term of all Delegate roles shall be six months. 

Section 4. Members may only be delegated by a Local Group a maximum of once every two years.

Section 5. Members may only be delegated by an Area Assembly a maximum of once every two years. 

Section 6. A member may only hold one Delegate role at a time. 

Section 7. All Local Delegates shall be subject to immediate recall upon the breakdown of their Local Group’s consensus in favour of their delegacy.

Section 8. All Area Delegates shall be subject to immediate recall upon the breakdown of their Area Assembly’s consensus in favour of their delegacy.

Section 9. In the event of recall, a new Delegate shall be elected at the earliest possible opportunity and the role shall be provisionally held by the most recent former delegate who is still a member of the Group or Assembly and was not recalled.

Section 10. All Delegates shall be required to make themselves available for one month after the election of their successor to train them in the role.

Section 11. All Delegates shall be unpaid.  

LOCAL GROUPS 

Section 12. The definition of a Local Group is as follows: 

(a) The Local Group has elected by consensus one Delegate responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the Group.

(b) The records of the Local Group are accurate to the first day of the month. 

(c) The Local Group has a forum for internal discussion and consensus-based decision making accessible to all paid up members of the Group.

(d) The Local Group has adopted and is not known to have violated this constitution. 

(e) The Local Group has no less than five and no more than fifteen members.  

(f) The Local Group has these facts validated by the Area Membership Delegate and its accounts validated by the Area Treasury Delegate. 

Section 13. Actions of Local Groups

(a) Local Groups have autonomy to decide all actions within the bounds of the law and this constitution, including involvement with area or national actions.

(b) Local Groups may invite by consensus any individual to attend their meetings.

Section 14. Relations between Local Groups:
(a)  Any Local Group shall accept the membership standing of any other Local Group. 

(b) Local Groups shall extend solidarity and support to one another upon request, consistent with their respective resources and circumstances.

(c) Local Groups may federate with each other at any time with the consensus agreement of their membership. 

(d) In the event that Delegates of Federated Local Groups divide their responsibilities between them, they must inform their Area Membership Delegate and Area Treasury Delegate.    

(e) Local Groups may defederate from each other at any time by a consensus decision of any Local Group in the Federation.  

Section 15. In the event that a Local Group no longer meets the criteria A-F listed in Article V, Section 1, as determined by either the Local Group’s own membership or the Area Membership Delegate, the Local Group shall be dissolved.

Section 16. In the event of a dispute between a Local Group and its Area Membership Delegate over a decision, that decision may be appealed at the next Area Assembly by request to the Area Internal Communications Delegate. The Local Group may send one Delegate to the Area Assembly to argue their case for appeal.

Section 17. In the event that a federation of Local Groups defederates, the assets of the federation shall be divided between the Local Groups as an equal amount per person, per group. The Local Group Delegates will coordinate with the Area Membership Delegate and Area Treasury Delegate during this process. 

Section 18. In the event that a Local Group is dissolved, all current assets of the Local Group shall be divided equally among all other Local Groups. The Local Group Delegate will coordinate with the Area Treasury Delegate during this process.

LOCAL DELEGATES

Section 19. Each Local Delegate is responsible for:

(a) Maintaining a membership list and registered supporter list.

(b) Keeping accounts and records of official communication.

(c) Arranging meetings of and facilitating communication between members of the local group.

(d) Communicating the opinions and ideas of their Local Group to the Area Assembly and the media and online. 

(e) Training the Delegate that follows them.

AREA ASSEMBLIES

Section 20. The definition of an Area Assembly is as follows:

(a) The Area Assembly consists of no less than fifty and no more than one hundred and fifty Local Delegates. 

(b) The records of the Area Assembly are accurate to the first day of each financial quarter.  

(c) The Area Assembly meets every 3 months.

(d) The Area Assembly has adopted and is not known to have violated this constitution. 

(e) The Agenda of the Area Assembly is open to contributions from all Local Delegates of the Area. 

(f) The Area Assembly makes decisions by consensus. 

Section 21. An Area Assembly may be called at any time by consensus agreement of its Local Delegates. 

Section 22. An Area Assembly may create and remove Area Delegate roles as it deems necessary except where this conflicts with this constitution. 

AREA DELEGATES

Section 23. The Area Delegate Roles required by this constitution are:

(a) Area Membership Delegate

(b) Area Treasury Delegate

(c) Area Internal Communications Delegate

(d) Area External Communications Delegate

(e) Area Support Service Delegate

(f) Area Resources and Merchandise Delegate

Section 24. The Area Delegates may call an Area Assembly at any time by consensus agreement. 

Section 25. The Area Delegates shall work together as is necessary to maximise the efficiency and solidarity of this Union.

Section 26. The Area Membership Delegate, Area Internal Communications Delegate and Area Support Service Delegate shall be contactable by any Area Assembly Member. 

Section 27. Each Area Delegate shall make themselves available for one month after the election of their successor in order to train them in the role.

Section 28. The Area External Communications Delegate shall be contactable by the public.  

Section 29. The Area Membership Delegate shall be responsible for maximising representation and solidarity within and between Local Groups by:

(a) The distribution of new members between Local Groups.

(b) The validation of Local Groups.

(c) Mediation within Local Groups over membership disputes.

Section 30. The Area Membership Delegate shall be responsible for recording: 

(a) Total numbers of Members and Registered Supporters in their Area.

(b) Contact details for each Local Delegate.

(c) Backup contact details for each Local Group.

Section 31. The Area Treasury Delegate shall be responsible for: 

(a) Receiving funds from Local Groups, other Areas and donors.

(b) Coordinating with other Areas to ascertain statistics about the finances of the Union.

(c) Distributing funds between the Area’s Local Groups and other Areas to facilitate the equal distribution of funds between all Local Groups of the Union. 

(d) Recording all of the Area’s financial transactions.

(e) Payment of expenses specifically agreed to by the Area Assembly.

Section 32. The Area Internal Communications Delegate shall be responsible for: 

(a) Keeping records and facilitating any appeals made against decisions taken by other Delegates.  

(b) Keeping records and facilitating the resolution of any complaint made by any Member, Registered Supporter, or Volunteer of this Union, against any Member, Registered Supporter, or Volunteer  of this Union. 

(c) Facilitating communications between Registered Supporters, Members and Delegates where these cannot take place directly. 

Section 33. The Area External Communications Delegate shall be responsible for:

(a) Maintaining and developing communications with the press. 

(b) Managing, responding to or directing to the correct Delegate all communications from individuals and organisations outside the Union.

(c) Maintaining the Union’s online presence. 

(d) Keeping records and facilitating the resolution of any complaint made by individuals or organisations outside the Union against any Member, Registered Supporter, or Volunteer of this Union. 

Section 34. The Area Support Service Delegate shall be responsible for: 

(a) Coordinating with other Areas to develop a national UCCU Support Service composed of Volunteer Support Workers. 

(b) Coordinating the relations of this Service with Area Members. 

(c) In conjunction with other Areas, coordinating the relations of this Service to eligible non-members.

Section 35. The Area Resources and Merchandise Delegate shall be responsible for: 

(a) Coordinating with other Areas to ascertain the resources and merchandise and the requirements for resources and merchandise of the Union.

(b) Procuring and receiving merchandise and physical resources from external organisations or individuals for the Area. 

(c) Distributing merchandise and physical resources between Local Groups on the basis of need. 

(d) Keeping records of the quantity, condition, location, cost and retail price of all merchandise and physical resources. 

ARTICLE VI – STARTUP ROLES

Section 1. On the establishment of this Union five roles shall be established on an unpaid basis:

(a) Initial Membership Representative

(b) Initial Treasury Representative

(c) Initial Internal Communications Representative

(d) Initial External Communications Representative

(e) Initial Support Service Representative

(f) Initial Resources and Merchandise Representative

Section 2. In all respects except their selection and deselection these roles shall be identical to those of the Area Membership Delegate, Area Treasury Delegate,  Area Internal Communications Delegate, Area External Communications Delegate and Area Support Service Delegate. 

Section 3. These roles shall be formally terminated at the first Area Assembly. 

ARTICLE VII – FUNDRAISING

Section 1. All funds raised with the name or label of the UCCU shall be the property of the UCCU.

Section 2. All fundraising by Local Groups shall be organised as fundraising events coordinated by their Local Delegate, with the facilitation of the Area Resources and Merchandise Delegate and Area Treasury Delegate. 

Section 3. Fundraisers at fundraising events shall make use of sealed donations tins, openable only by their Local Delegate. 

Section 4. At the end of the fundraising event these tins shall be opened in the presence of the Local Delegate and a witness. A receipt will be completed detailing the amount received, the Delegate’s name and signature, the witness’s name and signature, the date and a reference number. 

Section 5. Those intending to donate to this Union should be directed by Members to the Local Delegate or Area Treasury Delegate.

Section 6. Upon receiving a donation, Delegates shall provide the donor with a receipt detailing the amount received, the receiving member’s name and signature, the donor’s name and signature, the date and a reference number. The Delegate shall retain a copy of this receipt for the Union.

Section 7. All fundraising on an Area level shall be coordinated by the Area Treasury Delegate. 

Section 8. Upon the sale of merchandise Members shall provide the customer and their Local Delegate with receipts stating the amount received, the receiving Member’s name and signature, the date, details of the merchandise exchanged and a reference number.

Section 9. Once received by the Local Delegate, funds and receipts shall be recorded and kept in a secure place accessible only by the Local Delegate. 

ARTICLE VIII – UNIVERSAL LABEL

Section 1. There shall be a universal label or emblem for the entire organisation. 

Section 2. The use of the universal label or emblem shall be vested entirely in our organisation and should not be extended to other parties, including individual members or groups of members, without the consensus agreement of a National Convention.

ARTICLE IX – ACTS

Section 1. The UCCU disclaims responsibility for any individual member’s, or any group of members’ opinions or acts which may be at variance with this constitution, the purposes herein expressed, mutual solidarity or the law. 

Section 2. Any Local Group may expel members for such opinions or acts by consensus decision of the remaining members. The Area Internal Communications Delegate and Area Membership Delegate must be notified of this decision. 

Section 3. In the event such opinions are alleged to have been expressed or acts are alleged to have taken place but no consensus can be reached, the Area Membership Delegate or another member of this Union agreed to by all parties shall act as a mediator.   

Section 4. In the event the dispute cannot be resolved by mediation, the dispute shall be brought before the next Area Assembly. Both disputing parties may send one Delegate for the purpose of arguing their case.

Section 5. Any member expelled by a Local Group shall be expelled from the entire organisation.

ARTICLE X – NATIONAL CONVENTION

Section 1. The date of the National Convention shall be decided by consensus decision of all Local Delegates.

Section 2. The National Convention shall take place once a year. 

Section 3. Each Local Group may send one delegate to the National Convention. 

Section 4. Any Local Group may submit an amendment to this document to the National Convention. 

Section 5. The amendment text shall include the text of the proposed amendment, clearly indicating the portion or portions of this document to be amended, setting forth any existing language that is to be deleted or replaced. Proposed new articles or sections shall be identified as such.

Section 6. These amendments shall be passed on arrival at a consensus of the National Convention.