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Every RMT member belongs to a branch. When new members join they are sent details of their branch, including the date and venue of meetings, with their membership card.
If you do not know which branch you belong to, contact the membership department (tel: 0800 376 3706) and they will tell you.
The branch is the cornerstone of RMT and the interface between the individual member and the rest of the union, helping members to find their way through the union's structures and bureaucracy; providing assistance and advice and the opportunity to participate in the union at all levels.
Most branches meet monthly on a weekday evening, usually in a pub or social club. If you do not know when or where your branch meets, contact your branch secretary, your regional office, or the membership department.
Attendance at branch meetings enables members not only to keep themselves informed of what is happening in the union at local, regional and national level but also to keep the branch informed of what is happening in workplaces.
A typical agenda for a Branch meeting includes:
- reports (from the workplaces covered by the branch; on recruitment; and on individual cases being pursued on behalf of branch members)
- correspondence (such as circulars from head office; appeals for support from other labour movement organisations)
- resolutions (also sometimes called motions). Members bring resolutions to the branch which, if they are agreed to by the majority of people at the meeting, are submitted to the RMT Council of Executives for its consideration
Other Branch functions
- Recruitment and organisation (e.g. allocating recruitment tasks; organising picketing or leafleting duties)
- Co-ordination of local representatives; supporting them and, if necessary, calling them to account
For annual general meeting (AGM) elections, branches are grouped together into areas (general grades) and regions (shipping grades) and the number of delegates per area/region depends on the number of members they have. Each delegate attends the AGM as a representative of the group of branches in their area/region, and the AGM is, in the words of the rule book, "the supreme government of the union".
There are other conferences to which branches may send delegates, such as the grades conferences. These are conferences that address issues of specific interest to particular areas of work (such as road freight; buses; catering; or engineering) and are entitled to submit two resolutions to the AGM. In addition, the RMT runs the following national advisory conferences: health & safety; retired members; young members; women; black & ethnic minority members; and lesbian, gay & bisexual members. The only way to get to these conferences is through your branch. Branches are also where nominations are made for all the nationally elected positions in the union (such as the president, general secretary, assistant general secretaries and members of the Council of Executives) and delegates to TUC conferences.
Branches can make appeals to the Council of Executives against decisions that the general secretary has made (and to the AGM against decisions that the Council of Executives has made) and on behalf of members who have been refused a benefit or legal representation by the union. Branch secretaries are responsible for making applications for benefits such as accident benefit and for legal representation and, should these applications be turned down for whatever reason, the branch can appeal against that decision if it wishes to.