Workers Solidarity Movement

Constitution


PREAMBLE

The world's wealth is produced by us, the working class. We ought to enjoy the benefits.

We want to abolish the system of capitalism which places wealth and power in the hands of a few, and replace it with workers control and socialism. We do not mean the farce called 'socialism' practiced in Russia, China, and other police states - the system in those countries is no more than another form of capitalism.

We stand for a new society where there will be no bosses or bureaucrats. A society which will be run in a really democratic way by working people, through councils in the workplaces and community. We want to abolish authoritarian relationships and replace them with control from the bottom up - not the top down.

All the industries, all the means of production and distribution will be commonly owned, and placed under the management of those working in them. Production will be organised and planned by the federation of workers councils, not for profit but to meet peoples' needs. The guiding principle will be "from each according to ability, to each according to need".

We are opposed to all coercive authority, we believe that the only permissible limit on the freedom of the individual is that they do not encroach on the freedom of others.

We do not ask to be made rulers nor do we intend to seize power "on behalf of the working class". Instead we hold that socialism can only be created by the mass of ordinary people. Anything less is bound to lead to no more than replacing one set of bosses with another.

We are opposed to the state because it is not neutral, it can not be made to serve the interests of workers. The structures of the state are only necessary when a minority seeks to rule over the majority. We can create our own structures, which will be open and democratic, to ensure the efficient running of everyday life.

We are proud to be part of the tradition of libertarian socialism, of anarchism. The anarchist movement has taken root in the working class of many counties because it serves their interests - not the interests of the power seekers and professional politicians.

In short we fight for the immediate needs and interests of the working class under the existing set up, while seeking to encourage the necessary political understanding and activity to overthrow capitalism and its state, and lead to the birth of an anarchist society.


CONSTITUTION

1. Name:

(a) The name of the organisation is the Workers Solidarity Movement.

2. Membership:

(a) Membership of the organisation is open to all who agree to work and argue for its policies in their public political activity, abide by its constitution and pay dues

(b) Members are responsible to their branch and to the National Conference for their political activities.

(c) Branches may suspend the membership of any member, such a suspension to be notified to all members through the Internal Bulletin. If the branch does not lift the suspension, the member concerned may appeal to the National Conference which will decide whether that person is to retain membership.

3. Branches:

(a) The basic unit of the organisation is the branch, which consists of at least three persons in a given area or workplace.

(b) Where no branch exists in an area, members will be attached to the nearest branch and considered full members of it.

4. National Conference:

(a) Members meet in National Conference at least once every six months to review their activities, decide policy, elect the National Officers and delegate other responsibilities. Conference be held in March and September of each year. The March conference to deal primarily with matters of policy and development of 'position papers' & 'policy statements'; the September conference to deal primarily with election of national officers, perspectives and activity plans for the coming year. Both conferences shall open with a discussion of perspectives and will take reports from national officers and committees. Matters inappropriate (e.g. proposed new 'position papers' at a September conference) will not be dealt with until the agenda of appropriate items has been finished. Conference may, by majority vote, modify or suspend the agenda.

(b) All members are entitled to attend and vote at National Conferences.

(c) National Conference is the supreme decision making body.

(d) Prior to National Conference all members will receive an agenda.

(e) Where members are unable to attend, they may have a proxy vote cast on any specific issue they wish.

(f) Proxy votes may only be cast when they clearly correspond to a specific item on the agenda.

(g) Any branch may call an extraordinary National Conference if at least four weeks notice is given in the Internal Bulletin.

5. The Delegates Council

5.1 The Delegates Council is responsible for the day-to-day co-ordination of the organisation's work between conferences. The Delegates Council is made up of delegates from each branch.

5.2 National Secretary is responsible for the co-ordination of the Delegate Council. Each branch selects and mandates its delegates to the Delegate Council. Delegates are recallable by the branch if they fail to obey their mandate. Branches are encouraged to rotate their delegates. When a branch changes its delegates, the National Secretary must be informed. No member is allowed to remain a member of the Delegate Council for more than 12 months consecutively.

Notice of Delegate Council meetings

5.3.1 The Delegate Council meets at least once a month or more often if necessary. All members are entitled to attend and speak at the Delegate Council meetings, but only branch delegates have voting rights.

5.3.2 An agenda will always be circulated at least 10 days prior to meetings. Branches should arrange to meet and mandate their delegate in the week before the Delegate Council meeting. Items can be placed on the agenda by any
a) WSM branch,
b) an individual submitting it in writing to the National Secretary up to 11 days before the meeting.

5.3.3 Normally at least ten days notice of Delegate Council meetings should be given. However, if an urgent issue arises, which requires an emergency meeting, this requirement can be waived. Special meetings may be called
i) through a motion passed by a branch.
ii) through petition by one third of the membership,
iii) at the request of one third of the delegate council delegates,
iv) at the request of any two national officers.

Holding the Delegate Council meeting

5.4.1 The National Secretary will attend all Delegate Council meetings. The National Treasurer and International Secretary need not do so unless
i) they have not provided a detailed, written report in the three weeks before the Delegate Council meets,
ii) a branch has requested they attend the meeting.
None of the National officers has a vote at the Delegate Council meeting.

5.4.2 For a meeting of the Delegate Council to be quorate, at least 50% of delegates must be present (attendance at such meetings can be via telephone conferencing where necessary).

5.4.3 Each branch of the organisation able to provide the needed infrastructure will host the Delegate Council in rotation. The host branch will provide the minute taker for the meeting in addition to their delegate.

Delegate Council decision making

5.5.1 Decisions made by the Delegate Council must reflect policy as decided by the National Conference.

5.5.2 The Delegate Council may initiate discussion with a view to encourage discussion of particular issues in branches or with a view to changing policy at the National Conference.

5.5.3 The Delegate Council can set interim policies. These interim policies must be compatible with the general section of existing position papers. A vote of 2/3 of a Delegate Council meeting is needed to delete the short-term perspectives section of a position paper. A simple majority is sufficient to add section to the short tem perspectives section of a position paper. These votes are subject to ratification by a cumulative total of 51% of members attending their next branch meeting. The National Secretary is responsible for co-ordinating and tallying this vote with the assistance of Branch Secretaries.

5.5.4 All branches are required to implement decisions made on items contained in the agenda circulated 10 days before the Delegate Council meeting. The Delegate Council may discuss items that are not on the agenda and make non-binding suggestion to branches. These should be returned to at the next Delegate Council meeting, after branches have had the chance to mandate delegates, and either be overturned or upgraded to decisions.

5.5.5 The National Conference may overturn any decision of the Delegate Council.

5.6 Minutes of all Delegate Council meetings will be circulated to National Mailing lists and included in the Internal Bulletin.

6. Commissions/Working Groups

Commissions/Working groups may be established to co-ordinate activities in various spheres of the organisation's work.

These Commissions/Working Groups may be established in one of 3 ways:-

(i)by a motion passed by National Conference

(ii) by a motion passed by National Committee

(iii) by a group of interested members

Commissions/Working Groups may develop draft policies to present to National Conference but may not alter or delete any existing policy without the agreement of National Conference.

Commissions/Working Groups may be established to co-ordinate the organisation's work in specific campaigns

Any interested member may join a Commission/Working Group.

7. Organisational principles:

(a) All decisions are taken by majority vote.

(b) No position within the organisation, either at local or national level, may be held by the same member for more than three years in succession.

(c) Minutes are kept of all meetings and are available to any member for inspection.

8. Minority rights:

(a) Official policy is that agreed at National Conferences.

(b) Minorities who disagree with any policy or members who wish to act on an issue for which no policy exists, have the right to act as they see fit as long as they make it clear that their position does not reflect that of the organisation, and as long as such a position does not take them outside the constitution of the WSM.

9. Internal Bulletin:

(a) The IB will be produced at least once every quarter by the National Secretary.

(b) It is sent to all members, and at the discretion of conference to sympathisers.

(c) The IB contains reports from Branches, Commissions, National Officers, etc. as well as proposals and discussion articles submitted by members.

(d) Members with an email address will be added to the WSM internal email list and can post to this list within whatever volume restrictions are agreed by the list. No message can be forwarded off this list without the permission of the sender - any member who forwards without permission will be removed from the list by the list maintainer.

10. National officers:

(a) Conference elects a National Secretary, Treasurer, one or more International Secretaries. It may create and fill other national positions as it sees fit.

(b) All national officers are subject to recall by the Delegate Council.

(c) The responsibilities of the National Officers are:

National Secretary

(i) To be the first spokesperson for the organisation.

(ii) To keep a record of all national correspondence.

(iii) To produce the Internal Bulletin.

(iv) To place a report in each IB.

National Treasurer

(i) To keep a record of all funds and financial transactions at national level.

(ii) To place in each IB a financial statement.

International Secretary

(i) To establish and maintain contact with similar organisations abroad, and to send them our publications and news of our activities.

(ii) To organise the translation of articles from foreign papers, and to be responsible for the writing of articles when requested by contacts abroad.

(iii) To place a report in each IB.

Internet Secretary

(i) to be responsible for maintaining the WSM mailing lists and web pages.

(ii) To place a report in each IB

11. Publications:

(a) Conference elects the editorial groups for all the WSM publications and can mandate these groups as it sees fit.

(b) Where an article submitted for publication is rejected the author may request an explanation to be given in the IB.

(c) The responsibility for any other national publications is also decided by conference.

12. Finance:

a) Membership dues are from 1% to 5% of income according to the number of people financially dependent on the member concerned. An actual figure will be worked out in consultation with the branch treasurer.

(b) Any member more than three months behind in their dues is deemed to have resigned.

(c) Half of this money is retained by the branch, and half is sent to the National Treasurer for the use of the organisation at a national level.

(d) National Conference, or in its place the Delegate Council, may place a special levy on members to finance specific projects.

13. Organisation policy

13.1 The policy of the WSM is first and foremost the position papers as drawn up and amended by national conference. All other policy decisions must be compatible with these position papers and are changed or reversed by any subsequent motions passed by national conference. Position papers lapse after three years unless they are ratified by national conference. The National Secretary is responsible for ensuring that Position Papers due ratification are included in the agenda of national conference

13.2 Position papers are divided into a general section and a short term perspectives section. The general section contains the theoretical position of the organisation on the question and should be framed in a way that will not allow it to become quickly dated. The short term perspectives section outlines the organisations policy on immediate questions and the tactics we intend to implement. This section lapses after two years unless it is ratified by national conference.

13.3 Between national conferences Delegate Council can set interim policies. These interim policies must be compatible with the general section of existing position papers. A vote of 2/3 of a Delegate Council meeting is needed to delete the short term perspectives section of a position paper. A simple majority is sufficient to add sections to the short term perspectives section of a position paper. These votes are subject to ratification by 51% of people attending their next branch meeting. It is the responsibility of each individual branch to mandate their delegate in advance of NC meetings and to ensure they reports back afterwards and have complied with that mandate. After Delegate Council meetings minutes will be circulated to members within seven days.

13.4 Individual branches can define their own policy on particular areas providing it is compatible with the Position Papers and decisions of Delegate Council. It is expected that this will be used to customise general tactics for local use and to generate policy tailored to specific local issues.

13.5 Individual members are free to engage in any political activity which does not contradict existing policy. In general they are expected to argue for and implement organisational policy in their public political work. Where they disagree with existing policy they are free to argue within the organisation for a new policy.

13.6 If they are speaking as a WSM member at any event they are expected not to contradict existing policies. This does not apply of they are speaking as a mandated delegate of a union or campaigning group. It also does not apply if they are speaking in an individual capacity at a debate or public meeting but in this case they should indicate that they are disagreeing with the policy of the WSM.

13.7 In Trade Unions and campaign groups members are expected not to argue against whatever tactics the WSM has agreed as a strategy for that issue. Again this does not apply where they carry a mandate from a section of that group or union.

If delegates are unmandated they are free to vote as they please provided their vote does not go against long term WSM policy.


As Amended Oct 2005