Motion 73 carried at CWU General Conference 2015 stated as follows:
“Conference instructs the NEC to conduct a review of current subscription rates. The review shall investigate the viability of both a flat percentage subscription rate for all members; and a banded subscription system, with both options being based on members contractual earnings, rather than who they work for. The review shall also consider the effect of both options on CWU income. The NEC are further instructed to seek the views of Branches and publish the review as a report to Branches by no later than the end of 2015.”
You will recall that in implementing the terms of this motion we wrote to all Branches via LTB 565/16 seeking their views and asking for responses to be returned to CWU HQ by no later than Friday 16th October 2015.
At the closing date for submissions only 6 Branches had responded expressing various views. It was clear that these 6 responses did not produce a consensus. 
As a result of the low number of responses the NEC discussed this matter and agreed with a conclusion that 6 branch responses were not a valid enough sample upon which an informed decision could be made.
As a result the NEC decided that we should again attempt to engage branches and accordingly a further letter was sent to all branches that included a 10 point questionnaire to try and focus the debate in the hope that this would generate a greater expression of views to inform decisions of the FOS and NEC.
As a result of that LTB (020/16), 21 responses were received at CWU HQ. This represents a 15% participation rate.
Again the NEC are of the view that given the issue we are dealing with i.e. our only source of income, a 15% return is not a sufficiently robust enough sample upon which to make changes to how we currently operate. 
The NEC believes this position to be even more relevant when the views expressed are read and considered. The major point here being that there is no clear cut consensus amongst the respondents as to what any ideal solution or alternative would be regarding how we could change our current plan structure and rates.
In considering the responses and by way of example with regards to the branches positions, to the question about the current structure causing confusion when recruiting new members 13 branches say it does while 5 say not with 1 being unsure. 13 is less than 10% of our total branches. Even then when you read the commentaries attached to that question it is not even as clear cut as a 2:1 split.
When you consider the important question that has been expressed about the rates we charge and their impact upon recruitment the picture is even more indecisive. Asked if the rates should be discounted for new members rising to existing rates the responses are 8 agreeing with 8 disagreeing. Again the commentaries to back up those views make it far from a black and white issue.
Almost the same split 7:8 is received when we ask if there should be a fixed term versus temporary contract rate charged.
The NEC clearly had a difficult decision to make in this matter. However they have to take into consideration that on not one of the questions asked do any of the (small) number of responses have unanimity. The question under consideration then is if major change is needed based on a small number of replies and upon which, on some of the main questions, views are fairly evenly split.
In conclusion the NEC felt that given the importance of the issue to us all i.e. it is our income we are dealing with, there is no real momentum to change how we currently operate i.e. a change to the current number of plans in place and the difference between the rates charged.
The NEC agreed therefore that the current plan basis we have for subscriptions within the CWU remains, at this point in time. However the NEC are also mindful of the review instigated by the General Secretary within the CWU and proposes that we revisit the issue again once that redesign and restructuring work is complete.
This then left the question of a subscription rate increase for 2016. The NEC had deferred making a decision on this matter when they previously discussed it, towards the end of 2015. This was reflected in the fact that no increase was announced for either the 1st January 2016 or the 1st April 2016.
In considering this matter and in acknowledging the assistance given to us by the branches that did respond, the NEC have taken the view that there will be no increase in CWU subscription rates during 2016. The earliest date we could next increase subscriptions would be 1st January 2017. This would be a gap of 21 months since the previous increase.
This decision throws up a challenge, an increase in subscription rates on 1st January 2017 is not a given but as a collective we have to work together to recruit more members in such numbers that would in turn render a subscriptions increase at that date unnecessary.
The NEC believes that by taking this course of action we have listened to those Branches who believe this issue i.e. the amounts we currently charge, to be a barrier to recruitment. Therefore, this now gives branches a small amount of headroom to go out and recruit knowing there will be no increase in rates for the remainder of the year.
The formal decisions of the NEC on this matter then are 1) The current subscription rate plans remain unaltered and that once our redesign and restructuring project is complete we visit this matter again and 2) It is agreed not to increase CWU subscription rates beyond their current levels during 2016.
The NEC wishes to thank those Branches that took part in this exercise and we believe that our actions show we have engaged positively on this matter and by not increasing subscription rates during 2016 demonstrates that we have listened to the comments received.
We do not believe, when taking into consideration the diversity of views expressed, that enough evidence exists upon which to make wholesale changes to our income stream arrangements at this point in time.
Any enquiries regarding this Letter to Branches should be addressed to the Senior Deputy General Secretary’s Department on telephone number 020 8971 7237, or email address
Yours sincerely,
Email Attachments – Click to download
· LTB 253/16 – CWU Subscriptions Review – Motion 73 General Conference
· Attachment 1 – Branch Responses
· Attachment 2 – Summary Document

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