Trade Union Voting and Engagement Guidelines

Report type
Policy proposal
Issue date
26 Mar 2013

This document sets out voting and engagement guidelines for trade union funds with investments in equities to use at company AGMs. Under the UK’s system of corporate governance, shareholders have important rights and responsibilities in relation to the companies whose shares they hold. Shareholders elect the directors of the board, both executive and non-executive, now on an annual basis; they vote on shareholder resolutions; and recent changes have made company policies on future executive pay subject to a binding vote by shareholders. Other significant decisions such as company mergers and takeovers are also subject to shareholder control.

It is important for trade unions to play an active role in corporate governance because the way companies are run is inextricably linked to other important areas of our work such as labour standards, job security, social and environmental responsibility and the development of the relationship between finance and industry. It is our view that good governance requires the balancing of the interests of all stakeholders in a company.

The new guidelines have been drawn up to ensure that corporate governance policies that unions have long been critical of - all-male boards, excessive director pay and bonus packages, and the non-advertisement of new director positions - will be challenged by union voting at company AGMs.

The trade union voting and engagement guidelines reflect a trade union perspective on corporate governance. They set out trade union policies on issues ranging from the composition of the board of directors and executive pay to employment relationships and tax avoidance. 

Download: Trade Union Voting and Engagement guidelines [PDF]

Read a press release about the new guidelines.