The news is out. A group of rebels has decided to take on the empire. With only old fashioned weapons and their own chutzpah they have shaken the authority’s foundations.
No this isn’t the plot of Star Wars VIII, but the latest in another ongoing saga, the Implosion of the ASTI.
Some ASTI members have decide to read the rules and found rule 67.
The rule is very clear: if members wish there to be a Special Convention they need only sign up in sufficient number to call on the General Secretary to convene such a Convention.
Why is this necessary? Every single member of the ASTI is worse off because of this dispute. I’ve written about this before. Hundreds are leaving the ASTI. The time is now to discuss the present and future of the ASTI and this Special Convention is not intended to overturn a ballot, it is to create room for the ASTI to re-engage and seek a better deal for our members.
The statement issued by the President (on the ASTI website), I imagine is an honest misreading of the rule, seeming to imply that a Special Convention needs the approval of ‘the Officers of the union’. It doesn’t. The statement further questions the letter’s validity because ‘it is not sent to all members’. To remedy that HERE’S A LINK TO THE PETITION. (Print it off, sign it with your colleagues and return it to one of the signatories)
Furthermore, annual Convention may have the power to discuss the motion the petition asks for, but it was not discussed. A motion to allow for it to be debated was defeated, the motion itself was never put to the floor. (And by the way, further reading of Rule 67, pictured above, reveals that a properly called Special Convention has the same decision making power as Annual Convention.)
The fact that this motion has been tried at Convention, CEC and Standing Committee further proves how out of sync those bodies are with those signing the petition in large numbers.
The President further asserts that the ‘motion attempts to overturn a national ballot where a majority…rejected the November proposals’. It does no such thing. It asks for a Special Convention to be called to discuss suspending industrial action in the light of upcoming negotiations on pay. It is silent on the November proposals.
A cynic might conclude that discussion is not allowed in the ASTI. Hannah Arendt wrote: ‘there are no dangerous thoughts. Thinking itself is dangerous’. Even the thought of holding a view contrary to the orthodoxy of the ASTI leadership seems to be unpalatable to those leaders.
In his statement the President finally acknowledges that the call for a Special Convention is ‘within the rules’. So to act democratically has now become an undemocratic act? Never mind Orwell, this is Kafkaesque in its logic.
So instead let the embattled and beleaguered members of the ASTI decide for themselves.
Let them be heard.
CEC member 2003-16, 2017-
Standing Committee 2011-16
ASTI member since 1993
Responses/comments welcome as always