AIUK Extraordinary General Meeting – 12 January 2013

Keeping you up to date with information about our groups activities has usually been a fairly positive experience – helping to give uplift from the constant flow of news about prisoners of conscience, people under threat of execution and other human rights abuses we have long campaigned against.  We all feel the work of local groups like ours is important. Although we raise some funds that go to AIUK, we are a campaigning group and the heart of what we do remains sending letters (and now emails).

You may have been aware that there was an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held earlier this month. If this is all news to you, this link opens the letter all members should have received, which give the resolutions and background information (from the perspective of the Board of AIUK).

Its hard to summarise in a few sentences. At discussions at our local group meetings in December and January there was great concern at what the Board of AIUK were intending to do.  Some of our frustration was exacerbated by an absence of background information on the AIUK website about what exactly this money that is being diverted to “hubs” in the south and east will be used for.  And for an organisation like AIUK to make many of its staff redundant to facilitate this financial package beggars belief.

Our Chair, Ted Stevens and wife May attended the EGM on the groups behalf. At our meeting in January we unanimously voted for Ted to use our 10 votes to support all the resolutions.  Here is his report:-

This meeting was, without doubt, a very low point in the history of AIUK.
One hundred members of Amnesty had been so dismayed at the abject performance of the Board and its Director, Kate Allen, that they called for this extraordinary general meeting to consider seven special resolutions.

A packed Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, heard a succession of impassioned pleas from members calling on the Board to think again about their agreement to the proposals contained in the document ‘A new structure for AIUK – Delivering the Role’. The members generally supported the principle of developing and supporting Amnesty in the global south and east but are now faced with a contribution to the international movement rising to 40% of AIUK’s total income by 2021.

The 2012 Amnesty AGM might have accepted the move but it is clear that the membership had not been informed of the drastic consequences that would follow. The members had not been made aware that because AIUK could not raise sufficient cash to meet the increased contribution to the international movement – representing savings of £1.28 million – seventeen of our own staff would be made redundant.

Board members came to the rostrum time and time again to dissuade the meeting but every resolution got enormous support. Sadly, as these were deemed to be ‘constitutional’ resolutions, they required 75% support rather than a simple majority. The resolutions received between 68.8 and 87.1% support and four were carried and three were defeated. The three represented the hollowest of victories for the Board.

We must find a constructive route out of this debacle and a first step would be the resignation of the Board and the Director They have shown that they have not been listening and are totally out of touch with the members.

Now that the details of the new role of Amnesty and the crippling financial outcome have become clear the members should assert themselves at this years AGM. Let us use our democratic structures to protect our committed staff members, have a properly informed debate about the role of AIUK and instruct the Board to show some backbone in future negotiation with the International Movement of Amnesty International.

We’d like to thank Ted and May for attending (and speaking at) the meeting on our behalf. We’re sure discussion will continue at our February meeting and through to our Group AGM in March. Please add your own comments below (or on Facebook). We’ve included the results below. There is further information on the AIUK site link.