In December 2019 the National Executive Committee agreed an Interim Process for dealing with complaints by members against members as follows
- Complaint submitted to General Secretary
- General Secretary to appoint investigation officer
- General Secretary to make decision after investigation if not breach of rule.
- General Secretary to place in front of the National Executive Committee if breach of rule.
- Members have the right to appeal the General Secretary’s decision to the National Executive Committee
This effectively codifies the process that the union has been using which together with guidance set out below aims to make the process clearer and transparent for members, branches, officers and the NEC.
This document seeks to set out Guidance for a member who wishes to complain to the Union in the event they have a complaint against a fellow RMT member.
Complaints about our Union services or employees and officers are dealt with separately.
Members when joining the RMT are required to confirm that they will abide by the rules and policies of the Union. Those rules and policy in the main govern how the Union works, is run and operates. The Union requires that members (Rule 1 Clause 4), will as members of the Union oppose all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination whether on grounds of sex, race, ethnic or national origin, religion, colour, class, caring responsibilities, marital status, sexuality, disability, age or personal characteristics. All cases brought to the attention of the Union are to be investigated, dealing with the in the “most appropriate way”. Any member found to be responsible for discrimination, harassment etc. is to be deemed to be acting contrary to Rule 2 Clause 24 and dealt with accordingly. The sanction under Rule 2 Clause 24 is expulsion from the Union.
In addition, the Union has a Mutual Respect Policy which seeks to set general standards of behaviour expected of members at all levels of the Union when involved in the work and activities of the Union. The policy states RMT members are asked to treat everyone with respect and dignity and to make absolutely sure their behaviour does not cause offence or misunderstanding. The policy defines “unacceptable behaviour” as including unwelcome physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct including the use of social media and any behaviour that ridicules ,intimidates is physically abusive, threatening or aggressive. The conduct in question may or may not have its focus on race; ethnic origin; skin colour; nationality; gender or sexual orientation; disabilities or sensory impairments; age health or physical characteristics or political beliefs.
The Rules of the Union can be found at https://www.rmt.org.uk/about/rmt-rule-book/ and the Mutual Respect Policy can be found at https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/mutual-respect-policy/mutual-respect-policy.pdf
The procedure is also listed in the Union’s diary to members which includes the Mutual Respect Policy.
The Union recognises that from time to time, like life in general, people have fallings out and that on occasions that may result in complaints to Union. It is not the role of the Union to become embroiled in the private lives or personal activities of Union members. The Union will not become involved in taking sides or become involved in disagreements that are not related to the official work or activity of the Union as laid out in our Rule Book, no matter the place where disagreements/incidents occur
This procedure is an Interim measure and Guidance and is not retrospective. It is put forward to assist the Union and members as Guidance and to lay down a procedure that is designed to give clarity to the process and gives the Union the right to investigate a member(s) complaint for a breach of Union rules or a breach of the Union’s Mutual Respect Policy. The Union will only investigate a complaint so long as it relates to the Unions’ work or activity, involving Union members, at Union held or sponsored meetings, on Union premises or on an official Union internet or social media site. It is not the Union’s role to police or become embroiled in complaints where other authorities may be best placed such as their employer, the police, regulatory authorities or social media companies’ complaints procedures.
If members do make a complaint, they have responsibility to comply with all reasonable requests to allow the complaint to be resolved as expediently as possible. To help deal with a complaint the member should provide all the necessary information and evidence required. They must be clear about the nature of the complaint and the rule or policy that it is alleged has been broken. Members who require assistance in framing their complaint should consult their Branch Secretary or Regional Office for assistance.
Set out below is a step by step process that will be used so that members know the procedure:-
A member making a complaint shall write to the General Secretary giving details and information required including which rule or part of the mutual respect policy has been breached. The complaint should be set out using the template form available here https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/complaints-form/ and be sent by recorded post to the General Secretary, RMT, Unity House 39 Chalton St, London NW1 1JD and not by email. The General Secretary shall respond within 7 days of receipt of the complaint.
The template form shall include:
- details of the person or persons who are the subject of the complaint,
- all available information relating to the incident(s) from which the complaint arises including details of how it relates to the Unions’ work or activity and involves Union members,
- the location of the incident or incidents (the relevant Union held or sponsored meetings, the specific Union premises or the official Union internet or social media site),
- detail as to whether or not you have sought any remedy to your issue prior to your submitting this complaint. For example, have you raised this issue within the Union structures such as at your Union branch meeting or with a Union official, or whether or not you have raised the issue with any other organisation such as employer, the police, regulatory authorities or via social media companies’ complaints procedures,
- the Rule(s) alleged to have been breached (if any),
- whether or not it is alleged that the Mutual Respect Policy has been breached,
- whether or not you are willing you participate in mediation (Stage 2),
- the outcome sought from the complaint
In the first instance the General Secretary shall seek to resolve the complaint informally which can include mediation provided by the Union or if necessary externally. If this accepted by the individuals involved in the complaint the matter will not progressed further. The individuals involved will have 7 days to accept or decline mediation.
If the informal route or mediation is rejected by both or either individual then the General Secretary shall appoint an investigator, within 7 days of the rejection of mediation, to investigate the complaint and report the findings to the General Secretary. The Investigator may be an officer of the Union or where appropriate an Independent person.
The Investigator will carry out a thorough investigation and prepare a report on their findings and submit it to the General Secretary within 60 days (reasonable extension may be granted due to extenuating circumstances or complex cases in which case all parties will be informed). In order to reduce the time, inconvenience and expense for all concerned the investigator may conduct interviews in person or by telephone, or request written statements from the individuals.
- If the investigation finds a breach of the Mutual Respect Policy and recommends actions to resolve the matter the General Secretary shall act upon that accordingly.
The member shall be written to, within 7 days of the recommendation, confirming the actions and if unhappy has the right under rule to appeal the decision of the General Secretary.
The member should indicate within 14 days of their intention appeal which should be followed up by a branch appeal.
The branch appeal must be submitted no later than 6 weeks following indication of intention to appeal, otherwise the appeal shall be time barred.
Once the branch appeal is received the matter shall be placed before the National Executive Committee without unreasonable delay.
- If the investigation finds a breach of rule the General Secretary shall place the matter before the NEC.
If the NEC consider disciplinary action is required then the member shall be written to setting out the charge and have the right to attend a hearing held by a subcommittee of the NEC, and shall have the right to be accompanied at the hearing.
The outcome of the NEC subcommittee shall be placed before the full NEC for ratification.
The member under rule has the right to appeal the outcome of the NEC decision to the Annual General Meeting.
If an appeal is made to the AGM, the NEC shall consider if the decision is deferred until the matter is heard by the AGM.
Should at any stage the member fail to cooperate without a reasonable explanation then the Investigator may prepare a report on the evidence that has been presented. Should any member require a reasonable adjustment to attend an interview or communicate then they should notify the General Secretary’s office at the earliest opportunity.
The person investigated as a result of a complaint will be given a copy of the complaint and any investigation report unless this will cause harm to the health of the complainant or any witness or the allegations are of harassment and the complainant and witnesses have asked for the complaint to be kept confidential. Information about complaints and investigations will be given to the National Executive Committee and, if there is an appeal, to the Annual General Meeting. Minutes are kept of meetings. Meetings discussing disciplinary action and appeals are confidential sessions and therefore the papers kept are confidential and only available to those that attend.
Decision 2617 19th December 2019 Members Complaints (O/12/5)