The forthcoming no-confidence motion against Deputy President (Graduate Students) Shama Rahman has caused legal concerns, as a result of the Sabbatical Officers signing employment contracts.
In most students' unions holders of sabbatical positions do not sign contracts, but have performance agreements instead. At ICU the sabbaticals signed contracts at the start of the year and receive a salary, potentially giving them a degree of protection under employment law. The consequences of this are disturbing, as it places the Union in a position where it becomes difficult to remove an underperforming sabbatical without jumping through hoops.
One potential show-stopper is the rule of not punishing someone twice for the same performance problem - once a warning has been issued, if the problem is not repeated then no further action can be taken. In this case a formal written warning has been issued recently, potentially gutting the content of any no-confidence motion. The counter argument is, of course, that the employment process and the democratic process run concurrently, and Council should be in full possession of all the facts before making a decision.
ICU President John Collins is expected to refer the matter to the newly formed Union Court, allowing it to rule on the legality of the contents of the no-confidence. This will be done before the motion is brought to Council, however that requires Council to approve standing orders allowing Court to meet. An extra-ordinary meeting of Council is expected around the end of January or beginning of February.
Next year's sabbaticals are expected to sign something other than an employment contract to avoid this problem.
Speaking to Live! last week Miss Rahman defended herself against the accusations made in the no-confidence motion.