Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"In Camera"

In reading about SSTUWA, a lot of material that should be public or at least explained to supporters of the executive is labelled 'in camera'. A term like 'in camera' should be anathema to a public organisation that is elected to be representative of members.

Wikipedia defines "in camera" as

"In camera sessions, also known as executive session which are a common point of order during board meetings, where information is provided that is not reflected in the minutes, and not available to the public. Some topics that may be discussed during in camera sessions include personnel decisions, financial decisions that must be kept secret (for example, where an organization is contemplating purchasing land but does not yet want competitors or the public to know about this strategy) or other sensitive issues related to the organization."

It is the last part of the definition that is misused as anything can be defined as "sensitive to an organisation" as the organisation must define how sensitive that it is. Members of the union are misusing this principle in order to make active members of the executive look inactive by disallowing public release of their attempts at change within the organisation.

Furthermore the definition goes on to say:

"Otherwise, justice in free countries operates under the principle that in order for justice to be done, justice needs to be seen, and the admission of the public to the court is considered a right. It is also used where one party claims some sort of privilege against a document (such as attorney work product or attorney-client privileged communications) while the other protests it, whereby the judge reviews the document and determines its admissibility."

The "in camera" definition raises the point that the members are, in the case of the union, the judge is the 'union president' and the public are the members of the SSTUWA. To misuse the powers of the union president in calling for 'in camera' discussion could be seen as seeking to actively mislead members through misdirection and deceptive conduct. Justice needs to be seen, that is the role of minutes and to limit the ability of members of the executive to discuss issues and develop their viewpoint with members seems decidedly undemocratic. You would think that in times like now, where little is being actively sought, would be a public breeding ground for new ideas and direction for the union. A rebirth as such of a well directed, robust and open organisation.

The 'in camera' discussion (and the 'poncyness' of anyone using it to confuse the masses and engage in legalese for the sake of it) I found irritating from the onset and I could not for the life of me discover why. Intuition is a wonderful thing.

The involvement of Marko in the union seems to finally be opening doors to a more active union. We should all be encouraged by perhaps finally having a more representative body and stronger leadership developing.

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