Socialist View

Socialist View has been set up to allow for inclusive discussion and socialist debate in PCS. We are fully supportive of PCS Left Unity. We will invite articles for inclusion. We will put forward socialist policies democratically in Left Unity.

ADC report – conference agrees fighting strategy to win over pay

Over 230 delegates attended the positive and successful pay fringe meeting on the Monday night of ADC 2019. The meeting was addressed by General Secretary Mark Serwotka, and delegates discussed future strategy in particular the challenge of beating the 50% ballot threshold.

Pay was the first issue debated at ADC the following day. The Left Unity NEC motion A292, which reiterated LU policy agreed in December 2018, was carried on a card vote. This was a clear endorsement of the majority of the NEC’s position that only a national, aggregated ballot, supported by an intensified organising campaign to beat the threshold, will enable PCS to take the national action required to defeat the 1% cap and win for members on pay.

Socialist View recognises the concerns of some reps that  PCS was moving too quickly towards another national ballot, however the instructions in the motion clearly set out a programme of organising initiatives to beat  the threshold next time round, at the earliest appropriate time.

These understandable concerns however, are very different to the approach of Socialist Party within PCS, who instead of trying to build membership confidence for future national action, continue to use the smokescreen of a disaggregated ballot in an open attempt, to create a point of difference; trying to portray the democratically agreed Left Unity pay strategy as being Mark Serwotka’s failed strategy. This represents a descent into open sectarianism in which they see their aim to remove Mark Serwotka as General Secretary as so crucial it justifies betraying members interests on pay.

Gender Recognition Act

Motion A21 on the Gender Recognition Act which included a censure of the NEC was carried at the conference. Socialist View accepts the conference decision and Socialist View supporters on the NEC will be working to ensure that the instructions in the motion are fully implemented.

Disgracefully however the serious issues around the GRA were used by some within the Socialist Party to attack and undermine Mark Serwotka. In an example of blatant opportunism, the SP launched a social media campaign in advance of ADC to attack Mark for his alleged role, in respect of what has become a toxic debate which seeks to counterpose trans rights with rights of women.

These actions are particularly hypocritical when the SP themselves are involved in a factional struggle within their own International organisation. Their General Secretary, Peter Taaffe, publicly accused their leading public representatives of sections in Ireland, the US and elsewhere of making concessions to “identity politics”, arguing that their focus has switched to women and LGBT+ while ‘downplaying the importance of trade union work, and bending in the direction of bourgeois feminism’ in relation to struggles over abortion and the GRA.

Motion A21 instructs the union to fight for trans rights, including improving awareness across PCS, and that this needs to be carried out in an inclusive and comradely way – something that we can all get behind, rather than using the issue to try further narrow factional interests.

Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) and Civil Service Pensions

Motion A290 welcomed PCS’s legal and political campaigning that has frustrated the government’s attempts, over the last three years, to implement cuts in the CSCS. Our approach has resulted in thousands of members benefiting financially at great cost to the government.

Delegates resolved to use all possible political, legal and industrial means to oppose further changes to the CSCS.

ADC also agreed to push for a joint campaign over pensions and the government’s attempts to delay paying us the money owed to us by suspending the process to rectify the breaches of the cost cap. The motion included a possible joint industrial action ballot to get members the money we are entitled to.

Representation of women in PCS

Reflecting a crucial debate within PCS, Conference carried motion A18 to bring about increased women’s representation throughout PCS to better reflect our membership. Noting that unlike other equality groups, there are no reservations for the biggest section of our membership – women – the NEC was instructed to take forward suggestions made in the recent member consultation.

These include carefully considering information provided by respondents on barriers that exist to women putting themselves forward for elected positions and union activity, and organising further discussion throughout PCS over the next year. Proposals will then be brought to ADC 2019 with a view to winning support for changes to PCS’s structures and rules which would bring about increased women’s representation on the NEC and other union bodies.

Re-elect Mark Serwotka as PCS General Secretary

The 5 yearly PCS General Secretary election is due to take place in December 2019. Mark Serwotka announced his intention to seek re-election at the Left Unity rally at ADC.

Socialist View supporters welcome Mark’s announcement and support him fully. He is widely recognised as the best General Secretary in the British trade union movement today and one that the majority of PCS members are very proud of.

Socialist View believes that with Mark and the Left Unity-led NEC’s leadership, PCS has been transformed into a fighting socialist-led union. We applaud the PCS leadership, backed by reps across PCS for it’s courageous fighting stance on pay, terms and conditions in the face of relentless attacks from the government. We believe that Mark is the outstanding candidate to be re-elected as General Secretary. At the rally, Mark stated that he would welcome the support and endorsement of Left Unity, as in 2005, 2009 and 2014 when his candidature was agreed without challenge.

Disgracefully, this announcement was attacked by SP members and their allies at the meeting and in written reports since ADC. Their claim that LU protocol has been breached by Mark for making his intentions public before the Electoral process holds no water as this was exactly what Chris Baugh and Janice Godrich had done 12 months before in respect of the AGS election. The SP have followed this up by stating that this “shouldn’t simply be a coronation” but that is exactly what they expected for Chris Baugh in the AGS election when Janice and other candidates put themselves forward.

At the same time a senior SP figure was dispatched to the meeting of the Independent Left to seek an electoral block with them against Mark. This despite the fact that the SP has been their greatest critic and even that same week describing the IL as ‘the sectarian ultra-left’.

Socialist View rejects the myths being created over Mark’s role within PCS and believes most activists and members will see through these attempts to remove the ‘union officialdom’ and the bizarre claims that ‘Mark is a tyrant who must go’.

Describing both Full-Time Officers and senior lay reps as a “bureaucracy” will cut no ice with members who want to see both working together to advance members interests.

The Socialist Party, who historically has a proud record in building and developing the Left in the Union, working alongside other progressive forces to advance members interests, have now abandoned this approach. Instead, in pursuit of their own electoral and political agenda, they are prepared to challenge and jeopardise all of the gains made during Mark Serwotka’s leadership, putting this before the interests of the PCS membership. Their self-styled “Left Opposition” to the current leadership is nothing more than desperate sectarianism.

We are confident that the majority of Left Unity members, and the wider PCS membership, will reject this and recognise the role of leaders such as Mark and Janice Godrich in building PCS.

We reflect the pride felt by thousands of PCS activists who believe that PCS is a democratic, member-led union fronted by an outstanding General Secretary and left-led NEC.