All MU Committees elect from their own number, a Chair and a Vice-Chair.
The EC currently chooses three Vice-Chairs, but this is not recommended for other Committees. In most cases the Chair or Vice-Chairs are elected at the first meeting of the year. However, some Sub Committees and working groups may choose to elect a Chair on a meeting-by-meeting basis.
The primary role of the Chair (and Vice-Chair in the Chair’s absence) is to keep order at the meeting.
This involves making sure that everyone who wishes to, has a chance to speak without interruption and that the agenda is dealt with in a business-like and efficient way. The Chair should remain impartial during debate. If the Chair wishes to put forward an opinion he/she should request permission of the meeting. When summing up a debate, the Chair should put across both sides of the argument with equal emphasis.
Currently, the Chair of the EC has a casting vote. Should a casting vote be afforded to a Chair of a Union Committee, other than the EC, it should only be used when the members of a Committee are equally divided on an issue and there is an equality of voting. Although it is not a requirement, it is normal practice that a casting vote, when used, is cast in support of the status quo. It is the duty of the Chair to uphold the Union’s Rules and the standing orders and/or constitution of the Committee.
In some cases, the Chair may be asked for a ‘ruling’. In complex matters relating to interpretation of the MU Rules, Chairs are recommended to suspend discussion on the agenda item and seek guidance, through the Secretary to the Committee, from the General Secretary.
Between meetings, Chairs and Vice-Chairs are expected to liaise with the Secretary or Administrator of the Committee over such issues as items for the agenda of the next meeting and progress on action points taken at previous meetings.
The Chair and Vice-Chair have the same responsibility as other Committee members. They are not authorised by the EC to act or speak publicly on behalf of the Union. All paperwork and issues for consideration by the Committee must be sent to the Committee Secretary for distribution to the members of the Committee.
Should a member of the Committee wish to suggest an agenda item, they should notify the Secretary of the Committee, who will inform the Chair and Vice-Chair.
Although it is sensible to have an experienced and knowledgeable Chair, it is not good practice to keep the same person in position year after year; no matter how competent that person is. Hopefully this will be self-regulating, but Committees should bear it in mind when selecting candidates for Chair and Vice-Chair.