Wednesday 30 June 2010

The CEO's trade union

One of the core functions of ACEVO is to provide a trade union for Chief Executives. We have a range of support and advice services; importantly for the times of crisis and potential loss of job.

We have an incredible good one-to-one CEO in Crisis Service and then legal cover for the discussions that go on if resolutions to difficulties cannot be found.

I have found over the years that this can be vital. When you are a CEO the lonely bit is when you are in difficulty you cannot turn to staff or trustees. You need a valued friend. That is what ACEVO provides.

One example of how bad things can be occurred recently with one member who discovered very late in the day some of her Trustees were in detailed discussions on a merger. No one had bothered to tell the CEO. Not a great way to deliver success. And a poor example of Trustee governance. I had another one last year where Trustees were meeting without the CEO and discussing which Trustee should handle bits of work. One CEO who was told it was unprofessional to conduct one-to-one meetings with her staff.

Is it any wonder that ACEVO makes such a deal about the need for better governance. At long last it seems The Charity Commission may be moving from their "one size fits all" approach.

As the CEO's convenor I shall continue to push the case for the Chief Executive. And I will ensure that ACEVO is there to support the CEO at times of trouble. We are the only body in the sector that does this. We take the task deadly seriously. Whilst that may not get all the publicity our other work does, it does not mean it isn't a core part of what we do for our members.


John Robertson said...

Duty of care:
I have never had the pig-in-the-middle job of a voluntary sector director but appreciate the problem & agree. Lots of vol. sector jobs are pig-in-the-middle, hard to define, hard to change career from, and easy for colleagues of any rank to mess-up. Two of the same rank or one mad boss is my rule for when to change jobs, but it's seldom possible.

Vol.sector CEOs should allow junior staff proper protection just as they should protect themselves. A typical union recognition agreement (these still exist in the public & vol. sector) reads "we will recommend x union to new staff & (fingers crossed) meet their rep quarterly while allowing reasonable paid time off for union duties. We will bother our payroll with some alternative to direct debit that helps nobody".

Not: the union must register with the financial services authority.

Not: the the union mus have a clear contract with members if it isn't registered.

Not: local branches and local branch budgets should be accountable to members through inernet voting and internet publication. The South London (Voluntary Sector) branch 1/1148 of the TGWU was a great excuse for members of the Communist Party of Great Britain to meet monthly & have a cut from union membership fees as well, but not a good place for members to seek help if the TGWU used no-win-no-fee lawyers who were "worse than useless - they don't read anything" according to one comittee member.

If CEOs should have proper help in a crisis, so should every level of staff & current union recognition agreements are worse than useless.

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