Constitution of Fightback (Aotearoa/NZ)

Adopted June 2014

1. About Fightback

Under our current system, democracy consists of a vote every 3 years. Most of our lives are lived under dictatorship, the dictatorship of bosses and WINZ case managers. Fightback stands for a system in which our workplaces, our schools, our universities are run democratically, for social need rather than private profit.

Fightback participates in the MANA Movement, whose stated mission is to bring “rangatiratanga to the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed.” Capitalism was imposed in Aotearoa through colonisation, and the fight for indigenous self-determination is intimately connected with the fight for an egalitarian society. We also maintain an independent Marxist organisation outside of parliament, to offer a vision of a world beyond the parliamentary capitalist system.

Fightback stands against all forms of oppression. We believe working-class power, the struggle of the majority for self-determination, is the basis for ending all forms of oppression. However, we also recognise that daily inequities such as sexism must be addressed here and now, not just after the revolution.

Fightback is embedded in a range of struggles on the ground; including building a fighting trade union movement, movements for gender and sexual liberation, and anti-racism.

Fightback also publishes a monthly magazine, and a website, to offer a socialist perspective on ongoing struggles.

Fightback stands for struggle, solidarity and socialism.

2. Interpretation

“publicly express” means to communicate either verbally in a forum such as a public meeting, in writing or via a form of electronic media such as

a blog, website or public email list

“member” means someone who has fulfilled the requirements of section (3)(i) in the constitution

“majority” means any number greater than 50%

3. Membership

 

  1. A three month ‘supported membership’ is open to all those in agreement with the principles in section 1. Such membership is subject to the same rights and responsibilities as listed in section 4.
  2. On conclusion of a three month supported membership period, which should include attending branch meetings, participating in practical activities, and making some financial contribution to the organisation, a candidate member can be accepted as a Fightback member by a fifty percent plus one decision of the branch.

In the case of a member-at-large in a location with no branch. they may be admitted to full membership of the organisatopm after a six month candidate period by a fifty percent plus one decision of the whole membership at the subsequent national meeting. The organisation is responsible to provide a regular point of contact during the candidacy period of an at-large candidate.

In the case of a lapsed member reapplying for membership.,full membership may be granted upon application by majority vote of the relevant branch or by the national Representative Committee if appropriate. Full-membership is dependent on a candidates’ political acceptance of the aims set out in section 1.

  1.  All members have the right and responsibility to attend branch meetings and annual national conferences and they are able to vote on any resolutions.
  2. Fightback operates on the principle ‘freedom of discussion, unity of action’ – members are free to disagree with the majority decisions of branches and RepCom, so long as they do not try to obstruct the implementation of those decisions and do not contradict the organisation’s principles set out in section 1. Disagreement should be explicitly stated; if possible, within the organization first; and debated in an organised fashion.

 

  1. All full-members must financially contribute some amount to the organisation on a weekly basis. In confidence, the national finance officer may discuss the appropriate amount on a case-by-case basis with individual full-members. Minimum contributions may be amended democratically by majority vote at any national meeting.
  2.  Full membership will lapse when a member either:

a)    Fails to pay pledges for 3 months or longer and makes no clear arrangement to catch up.

b)    Fails to engage in any organisation activities for a period of 3 months. In this situation it is expected that the branch organiser would make a reasonable attempt to make contact with the member.

c)    Advises the national secretary or national organiser in writing that they wish to cancel their membership.

d)    Has their membership terminated following the procedure outlined in section 4.

 

  1. Any candidate or full-member who wishes to take up a representative position in an external political organisation, such as a union, student union, broad front, progressive coalition, or any similar such organisation or campaign is required to receive the consent of the relevant branch or by Representative Committee when in the case of members-at-large (in any such case the Representative Committee meeting must be conducted in such a way that its representatives are voicing the opinion of the organisation’s component parts).

 

4. Disciplinary Procedures

(i) Disagreements and debate are part of a normal, healthy political culture and all members are guaranteed freedom of expression so long as they do not:

a. publicly express a political view in direct opposition to the principles of the organisation set out in section 1

b. engage in conduct bringing the organisation into disrepute in the eyes of the working class and oppressed

(ii) Where a member is found to have breached either section (4)(i)(a) or (4)(i)(b) they may be expelled by a majority vote of the local branch of which they are a member. The national secretary must also be notified of the decision.

Where a member is expelled by their local branch, the member shall still have the right to appeal their expulsion at the next national conference. However their expulsion shall still remain in effect in the intervening period before the next annual conference, unless the branch reverses its decision (which it shall have the right to do at any time).

(iii) Members-at-large can only be expelled by a majority decision of national conference and for the reasons set out in section (4)(i)a and (4)(i)b

(iv) A motion to expel a member requires the support of at least 3 financial members, and must be submitted in writing to the branch secretary or national secretary (whichever is appropriate) setting out the specific allegations against the member

(v) The member concerned must be given at least 2 weeks notice of any vote on their suspension or expulsion from the organisation, and be allowed to make a statement in their own defence to the branch and/or national conference.

5. Organisational Structure

(i) The basic organisational division of the organisation is the branch

a. a branch may be formed wherever there are 3 or more financial members residing in a single town or geographical locality and where branch meetings are held at least once a month

b. members who are not members of a branch are deemed to be “members-at-large”

(ii) The highest decision making bodies of the organisation are the bi-annual national conferences, the timing and venue for which are to be determined by the decision of the majority of branches.

(iii) All members shall be notified of the date and venue of national conferences no later than 2 months in advance, and have the right to attend and vote on all resolutions, nominations and remits.

6. Election of National Officers

(i) At the annual conference the following officers shall be elected

a. A National Secretary who is responsible for carrying on all official correspondence as well as maintaining a database of all current financial members.

b. A National Organiser who is responsible for prioritising and leading the organisation’s political campaign work in consultation with the local branch organisers.

c. A National Treasurer who is responsible for collecting money owing from sale of publications as well as donations and providing an annual financial report at national conference.

d. A National Industrial Organiser who is responsible for prioritising and leading the organisation’s trade union work in consultation with the local branches.

e. A National Educational Organiser who is responsible for prioritising and leading the organisation’s educational work in consultation with the local branches, including the production of pamphlets and other literature.

f. A Coordinating Editor and Editorial Board who are responsible for overseeing the production of the organisation’s newspaper and the content of the organisation’s website.

(ii) A minimum period of 6 months membership is required for those wishing to stand for election to national officer positions. Members may nominate themselves.

(iii) The purpose of the elected officers is to play a co-ordinating (not executive) role. Any decisions made by the elected officers can be challenged and overturned by the decision of the majority of branches.

(iv) All officers are subject to the right of recall by the decision of the majority of branches at any time.

(v) Where a position falls vacant due to resignation, recall or any other eventuality during the intervening period between national conferences an interim replacement may be elected by the decision of the majority of branches.

7. Election of Branch Officers

(i) Each branch must hold an Annual General Meeting, written notice of which must be given to all members no later than 2 weeks in advance.

(ii) Each branch Annual General Meeting shall elect the following officers

a. A Branch Secretary who is responsible for handling all new membership applications and recording the minutes of each branch meeting.

b. A Branch Organiser who is responsible for prioritising and leading the branch’s political campaign work in consultation with the national organiser.

c. A Branch Treasurer who is responsible for collecting membership dues and donations and for providing a finance report at each branch meeting.

d. Any other officers as the branch may deem necessary to elect.

(iii) A minimum period of 3 months membership is required for those wishing to stand for election to branch officer positions.

8. Representative Committee

(i) Representative Committee (RepCom) is the national coordinating body, comprising all elected National Officers, Branch Organisers (and any other members co-opted by majority decision of either RepCom or a national conference).

(ii) RepCom has the following responsibilities:

a. Centralising information and decisions from branches;

b. Coordinating regular national activities, in accordance with general aims and principles agreed at national conference.

(iii) RepCom can be recalled, as a slate or as individuals, by majority decision of a national conference or of the branches at any time.

9. Powers to Amend the Constitution

(i) Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by any member via remits to the organisation’s annual conference.

(ii) All constitutional remits must be received by the national secretary no later than 1 month in advance of the annual conference.

(iii) Amendments to the constitution require only the support of a majority of votes at annual conference.

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