AWL Code of Conduct and Safeguarding Policy

Submitted by cathy n on 6 December, 2018 - 9:03 Author: AWL

Policies passed at AWL Conference April 2021. Next review November 2021.

Code of Conduct

These guidelines are intended to help us in our day-to-day dealings with each other, to allow us to function effectively politically as individuals and as an organisation.

In the AWL we call each other “comrades”, and our relations with each other should be comradely.

AWL members expects its members to:

* Maintain a spirit of solidarity with each other, even though we may sometimes have angry and bitter political or organisational conflicts.
* Treat each other with respect, regardless of any personal friendship issues or fallings-out.
* Communicate our ideas and values positively to friends, work colleagues etc.
* Relate to other AWL members in a comradely way, regardless of personal fallings-out.
* Wherever reasonably possible seek to resolve personal conflicts by direct and comradely discussion. Where conflicts cannot be resolved in such a way, or where it is not appropriate, or where the person affected choses to, comrades will use the AWL Procedure for Complaints (see the Guidance on Procedures for Complaints for more details).

The following points are the duty of all AWL members, in particular, of organisers:

* Work to safeguard the welfare of children (under 16) and young people (between 16 and 18) in and around the AWL.

AWL members should not:

* Engage in discriminatory language or behaviour (including, but not limited to, language or behaviour which is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, disablist, discriminatory against people with physical or mental ill-health).
* Monopolise contact with a friend who wishes to talk politics with the AWL. Instead, ask the AWL branch organiser to put them in touch with another AWL member who will meet them for political discussions. (This is to avoid a confusion of the personal and political relationships - so that the contact's political relationship with the AWL can be separated out from any fortunes or misfortunes of the personal friendship.)
* Use any position of prestige or authority for sexual advantage (in particular, in relation to younger comrades).
* Use sarcasm, put-downs, talking-over, etc. Extended bad-mouthing of other comrades behind their backs should be considered a significant breach of the code of conduct, even where there is criticism or conflict between members. This clause should not be used to block political polemic.

In addition, AWL organisers should:
* Be sensitive to potential issues of power dynamics (e.g. gender, age, etc.) when pairing a new comrade with a more experienced comrade for political discussions.
* Seek to motivate AWL members, whether by positive motivation (encouragement, praise etc.) or, if necessary, criticism or rebuke, objectively (in terms of the consequences for the AWL and for socialism), not subjectively (in terms of the consequences for the organiser personally).

AWL organisers should not:
* Bestow “patronage” – reward friendly personal relations with more prestigious roles in political activity (in particular, in relation to younger comrades).
* Pose the request as a personal favour when asking AWL members to undertake tasks or activities.


Safeguarding Policy

Questions and advice on safeguarding should be sent to:

Preamble to Safeguarding Policy

Our project is to build an organisation of active revolutionaries who are able to think for themselves, play a role in educating themselves and each other and be prepared to fight for their ideas within the organisation and wider movement and often in hostile environments.

We aim to persuade young people of our ideas and to go out and fight for them. Some of this work is tough and can be at times “uncomfortable”.

We are concerned that our organisation does not infantilise young people as many institutions and organisations in capitalist society do. We strive to always treat them as thoughtful, capable young adults, while at the same time recognising that young people up to the age of 18 and vulnerable adults are special groups that require some specific safeguarding.

Below is a safeguarding policy defining what we mean by safeguarding and the procedures we will adhere to if there are concerns for under-18s and or vulnerable adults in the AWL.

This policy can only apply to our own events and surrounding social activities and to our members and participants at such events and activities. It cannot apply to non-members/supporters or participants at other events. It is distinct from support we give members/supporters in experiencing abuse in other organisations and environments (eg. bullying at work, in their trade union, from other left groups, or from parents, carers or partners).

Safeguarding Policy

This Safeguarding policy applies to all participants, volunteers, helpers, members, staff, including senior organisers and anyone working or volunteering on behalf of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty
The purpose of this policy is:
* to protect young people (up to the age of 18 years old) and vulnerable adults who attend Alliance for Workers Liberty branches and events and participate in social activities around these meetings and events. For all other participants see the Code of Conduct.
* to provide volunteers and staff with the overarching principles that guide the Alliance for Workers Liberty’s approach to safeguarding and child protection.

What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is the broader preventative and precautionary approach to planning and procedures that need to be in place to protect children and young people and vulnerable adults from any potential harm or damage. It is more than child protection, although child protection is one important aspect of safeguarding.
Child protection involves recognising signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or of neglect and acting on it.

Safeguarding Principles

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty recognises that:
* the welfare of the child is paramount, as enshrined in the Children Act 1989
* all young people, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
* some young people and vulnerable adults are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
* working in partnership with young people and vulnerable adults and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s and vulnerable adults welfare. Outside organisations may inform and influence our practice and procedures.

Our underlying safeguarding principle is that all young people and vulnerable adult members/supporters should be protected from abusive behaviours and attitudes that fit the following areas of abuse: physical, sexual and emotional.

To achieve this aim:

The needs of the young people are central to all activity planning they will be involved in. This should include where possible careful consideration of venues booked and used. Where under 18s are participating, we should avoid 18+ venues where possible.

Open communication with members of all ages and effective planning will support safeguarding of young people and vulnerable adults.

Anyone has the right to speak out about behaviour and attitudes they find uncomfortable within the three defined areas of abuse. They should know in advance whom they should speak to, and be confident they will be listened to

The Safeguarding Officer is responsible for seeing to it that sufficient organisers do basic safeguarding training (which can be completed online for free).

Risk assessments must be undertaken for work and activities planned involving young people and vulnerable adults, e.g. taking part in a potentially dangerous demonstration, sleeping arrangements at summer camp, particularly hostile political environments. This should not be done with a view to preventing anyone from participating but to consider what we can do as extra to help make participation as safe as possible.

Personal details of members are held securely in accordance with data protection policy.

The Safeguarding Officer and their Deputy will be appointed each year by the incoming National Committee [will be appointed on 12.1.19], and generally will be chosen from among members with safeguarding experience in their outside work. They are the first port of call for all safeguarding concerns, and responsible for overseeing and monitoring safeguarding across our activities.

Any member of the AWL aware of concerns regarding a child or young person (under 18) or vulnerable adult must report them as soon as feasibly possible to the Safeguarding Appointed Person, even if this is against the wishes of the individual.

If concerns regarding any child or young person (under 18) or vulnerable adult are reported to Branch Organisers, Executive Committee (EC) Members or Disputes Committee (DC) members at any stage of this process, they must report them as above.

If the concerns are about the Safeguarding Appointed Person they should be reported to the Deputy Safeguarding Appointed Person and to the DC and EC.

Safeguarding report (safeguarding officer December 2019)

Over the past year we have established a routine for our events ensuring there is a named safeguarding lead including at post event socials. We have compiled a central list of comrades with current Enhanced DBS checks, with recent and up to date level 2 and above Safeguarding training and we have developed two questionnaires relevant to the work we do for comrades to use to help develop their understanding and awareness around safeguarding issues.

Over the coming period we need a coordinated approach to getting comrades to complete and discuss the questionnaires.

Safeguarding needs to remain a priory consideration for us, it needs to become and remain ‘second nature’ to us in branches and at our events.

Note on the Disputes Committee:
The AWL Constitution describes the role of the Disputes Committee as follows (this text was amended at our 2018 Conference).

Conference will elect a Disputes Committee consisting of three people. They will not serve on the National Committee. 

Membership of the Disputes Committee should be for a fixed term of two years. The organisation should ensure members have appropriate training. Three alternates should be elected at the same time as full members are elected (for situations of unavailability or potential conflicts of interest). If a member of the Disputes Committee is elected to the NC during their two-year term of office, a by-election will be held to replace them.
The role of the Disputes Committee will be:

* To investigate and adjudicate in complaints and disputes between members of the AWL at the request of a complainant or of one of the parties to the dispute

* To act for the National Committee or Executive Committee as an investigatory body. When it acts in this capacity it will report to the activating body.

-receive and investigate complaints against the leading committees or officers of the AWL on any matter of concern to any member of the AWL.
- present a report on any such investigation to the National Committee and, if it chooses, to present proposals and recommendations for action to the National Committee. Any proposal or recommendation from the Disputes Committee to the National Committee will be deemed to have a very strong moral authority. Where the Disputes Committee comes into irresolvable conflict with the National Committee on some matter which it considers of fundamental importance it will have the right to call a special AWL conference.
- censure, where it thinks fit, after proper investigation, any action of AWL committees, or any AWL officer, or any AWL member and present motions of censure to the National Committee.

* To present a report of its activities over the previous year to each annual conference of the AWL.

These policies are revisions and additions to existing policy and were made in the light of a report of an historical case of sexual assault and the process we put in place to investigate our actions on this matter. Details of that can be found here.

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