PCS Needs A United Left To Win For Members

Socialist View welcomes all delegates to PCS Annual Delegate Conference 2019. This week we will decide the policies and strategies for the coming year and beyond. There will also be debate on the left about how we continue to build a fighting democratic union capable of meeting the challenges of an on-going austerity programme of cuts and privatisation.

The recent pay ballot was both a major achievement and disappointment. While recording for the second time a tremendous vote for industrial action we failed to reach the undemocratically imposed 50% ballot threshold for action. We should be very positive that this threshold can be reached. The national pay campaign strategy is fundamentally correct. The only way we can end the cycle of falling living standards and low pay for our members is by winning back national pay bargaining, and the only way we can do that is through national action with a national aggregated ballot, and both national and targeted industrial action.

The real issue is organisation. The new technology like branch apps are invaluable aids but building strong workplace organisation is the key. Conditions vary from group to group and branch to branch. We must carefully assess which areas need help and assistance and even how we can further strengthen the best organised areas. PCS should ballot as soon as practicably possible to smash the threshold and win against a Tory government falling apart at the seams.

Elections – Unity Not Sectarian Division

Socialist View welcomes the re-election of a Left Unity national executive committee and in group elections, not least of all in HMRC and DWP. These election results are remarkable in that Left Unity (LU), the socialist rank and file organisation in PCS, has suffered the most serious internal divisions since its inception in the past year over the election for Assistant General Secretary.

While former incumbent Chris Baugh deserves great credit for the work he has done to build the left and PCS over many years it cannot be ignored or excused that he has for many years consistently undermined the general secretary, the NEC and the democratically decided policies of the union. The real issues behind this unfortunate division emerged into full view in the LU campaign for the AGS nomination and the PCS election itself. And rather than emerging from a “personality clash” they arose from Chris’ conservative, timid and conciliatory approach to industrial and political strategy. Obscuring the real issues were cynical and divisive dog-whistle claims that PCS, one of the most democratic, lay led unions in the UK was in the grip of a “bureaucracy”.

But the last straw was when Chris broke from NEC and conference policy to argue just prior to the most recent ballot it should be on the basis of a disaggregated ballot with a whole raft of terms and conditions added. This would not have constituted a legal national ballot. Such a “strategy” would have allowed the government to divide and rule by, at best, offering limited concessions to some groups on terms and conditions issues but holding firm in refusing to concede on national pay bargaining with the consequence of continuing low pay for our members. And this at a time when HMRC and other departments were trying to tie terms and conditions cuts to pay negotiations.

A Strategy To Take The Left And PCS Forward

SV congratulates John Moloney on his election as AGS and believes he can be a good, capable AGS. The Independent Left (IL) group of which John is a member has, in some respects, even bigger questions to face than Left Unity. Will it continue to act as an oppositional grouping or take this opportunity to build and extend the left beyond the current factions and work to deliver what is required to build our union to meet the challenges members face? We hope it does. And we hope they see the call from the Socialist Party to “build a left independent from the leadership” for the incoherent and empty nonsense it is.

LU has always been clear, none of the differences of view that do exist are of such importance that they justify separate organisations. But even a united left must reach out further to those many activists and even members who are in neither camp. The capacity for strengthening and extending socialist influence in PCS is enormous and that is what must be done.

We must move forward from here but not on the basis of the failed, sectarian strategy that caused the split in the first place. SV will fight to ensure LU gets back on track but will continue to expose and oppose sectarianism and conservatism. SV says to those genuinely interested in advancing the left – learn the lessons from this divisive period and join us in building the fighting democratic union we need to defend our members interests.

General Secretary Election

SV will support the re-election of Mark Serwotka as general secretary in the upcoming election. He is an outstanding leader committed to continue building a fighting democratic union and win for our members by implementing the democratically decided policies of PCS. The SP say Mark’s re-election shouldn’t just be a “coronation”.This comment is devoid of serious political content but does tell us that rather than learn from their errors they intend continuing with their “rule or ruin” line and have as their main priority bringing down Mark as general secretary. We urge the left to reject this embittered sectarianism, which is doomed to fail, and fight for a united left leadership capable of taking our union forward and winning for members.

Support The National Pay Campaign – For A Democratic Fighting National Union

Socialist View Statement

The Left Unity National Committee (LUNC) have published the result of the re-run election to decide Left Unity’s (LU) candidate for assistant general secretary (AGS) and issued the agreed Democracy Alliance slate for the 2019 national elections. Chris Baugh, having been defeated by Janice Godrich in the first LU election for AGS, stood again following Janices’s decision not to accept the nomination due to ill-health. While acknowledging Chris Baugh narrowly won the re-run against Stella Dennis by 16 votes, Socialist View (SV) share the concerns of a number of LU members about what this means for Left Unity, during these elections and beyond, and the union itself.

SV have not resorted to making scurrilous attacks against the democratic process, and elected LU scrutineers, in the way Chris Baugh and his supporters did following his earlier election defeat. SV accept Chris Baugh is the official LU AGS candidate, but we support those comrades who continue to raise objections to him standing alongside those elected on the Democracy Alliance slate. SV acknowledge these concerns are firmly based on the serious political grounds of defending PCS’s national pay campaign and the national union, as well as LU democracy.

Prior to and throughout the re-run election Chris Baugh consistently opposed PCS, NEC and LU policy on the national pay campaign and called for a disaggregated ballot, including the addition of a series of demands grafted on to the central claim for a return to national pay bargaining. In advocating this destructive and divisive “alternative” both informally, and in his position as the second most senior elected full-time official in PCS, he went way beyond the boundaries of legitimate debate. Had he been successful with his co-ordinated opposition to the pay strategy, overwhelmingly endorsed by the NEC and LU conference, it could have led to the abandonment of the national pay campaign itself, at a time when the conditions for winning on pay and achieving national pay bargaining for our hard-pressed and low-paid members have never been better. Time will tell how damaging his public opposition has been to the campaign, but it has already fed the nervousness of a number of activists and dented their confidence in a strategy, forged around the need for a collective response to win on pay. This has been a key factor in the NEC’s decision to put back the start of the ballot timetable.

We can all see the government is in crisis and while activists were working hard to build the union’s workplace strength to apply the leverage that can win for our members, Chris Baugh chose precisely this time, for selfish factional and electoral purposes, to create false division and elevate his campaign to secure what he describes as his “job” above the interests of PCS members.

As we have previously stated, in opposing PCS, NEC and LU policy for an aggregated ballot, by arguing for a disaggregated ballot on the basis of adding other employer based demands to those on national pay, he was completely aware that this would not constitute a legitimate and legal national pay campaign, and it would have allowed the government and departmental heads to divide, weaken and defeat PCS’ national demands on pay, condemning our hard-pressed members to further years of financial misery.

SV are clear, rather than this merely constituting “healthy debate and dissent” in manufacturing this “difference” he was not just seeking to overturn PCS, NEC and LU policy but was actually dragging the union back to the days of a strategy based on separate group campaigns rather than united national action: a policy previously adopted by the former right-wing leadership of our predecessor union. Such a position is sectarian. But worse than that it is reactionary and based on an appeal to those lacking confidence that the union could win on pay.

Support the LUNC

It is for these reasons, amongst others already debated in recent months, that a number of LU members have written to the National LU Secretary raising serious concerns following the election.

Having previously been defeated by Janice Godrich and seen his defeatist “strategy” on pay overwhelmingly rejected by both LU conference, and by members and activists in the recent NEC consultation, it is clear that Chris Baugh remains a divisive figure who does not have the support and confidence of the bulk of activists who deliver for LU and the union.

As a result, the PCS Democrats have decided that they cannot support him and therefore the LUNC have rightly taken the decision that, in order to maintain the Democracy Alliance, Chris Baugh, while standing as the LU AGS candidate, cannot be added to the agreed Democracy Alliance (DA) slate for the 2019 elections.

The impact his presence on such a slate would have on the votes for other DA candidates, as well as for the alliance with the PCS Democrats itself, has rightly drawn the LUNC to the conclusion that separate campaign materials should be produced for the national/conference and AGS elections.

Supporters of Chris Baugh have taken to condemning the decision of the LUNC in Socialist Party articles, calling it an “attack on LU democracy” and personalising criticism towards the LU National Secretary.

SV believe it has been the democratically agreed policies and the principles which we adopt, that have always set PCS LU apart from other factions. It is what we stand for and our determination to deliver it as a collective, while accepting the broad spectrum of socialist views of our members, that make LU what we are. This has always been as significant as the ability to vote in an election and yet Chris Baugh has wilfully ignored democratically agreed LU policy in his pursuit of an “alternative” strategy on pay.

Some of AGS Baugh’s supporters are now calling for anyone who does not support him to be named and expelled from Left Unity. Their hypocrisy is of epic proportion and of course has no basis within the LU constitution. It could even be argued the constitutional rule which outlines the expectation that LU NEC members are guided by PCS and LU conference policy, is equally worthy of scrutiny by the LUNC, than anything that mentions electoral slates.

The LUNC’s job is to protect the interests of LU, carry out it’s democratic process and implement LU’s democratically adopted policies. They are doing just that in making this decision and must be applauded for listening to the legitimate concerns of LU members.

Win on Pay – Conservative strategy rejected

Thankfully, despite the attempts by AGS Baugh and his supporters to co-ordinate a strategy that would have left the national pay campaign in ruins, the recent consultation throughout the union has overwhelmingly endorsed the collective strategy proposed by the NEC, Left Unity and supporters of Socialist View.

With over 14,000 members responding to the consultation exercise – alongside activists, branches, equality groups and group executive’s – the national union has reached out to unprecedented numbers of PCS members, and have more than vindicated their decision to reject earlier calls for a special pay conference which would have reached a fraction of those we have now consulted, and with significantly less expense.

The positive response to the strategy proposed by the NEC, around a further national aggregate ballot across the Civil Service, core national demands on pay, raising additional money for the fighting fund, and a return to national pay bargaining, to harmonise pay, has enabled the NEC to unanimously endorse our pay claim and call a national aggregated ballot across core civil service groups and other employer groups who have expressed a desire to take part.

There is no doubt that the union’s engagement with members is way ahead of where it was prior to last year’s statutory ballot, and shows the members determination to win and willingness to support the union’s demands, that in some ways is ahead of many activists. It is this positive response from thousands of members that gives us real confidence they are ready for this ballot and we can beat the government imposed threshold.

No one is under any illusions as to the size of the task ahead of us. We must leave no stone unturned in driving out the vote that will give us the maximum leverage, and allow us to put the maximum pressure, on this divided and weakened Tory government. We have a unique opportunity to deliver on our demands if we get past that 50% threshold. We must now seize that opportunity, to build our workplace strength, deliver a resounding YES vote in the forthcoming ballot and smash the government’s threshold. We can then launch our campaign and achieve the win on pay our members so desperately need and so greatly deserve.

 

Defend the National Pay Campaign and win for our members

It has been long standing PCS policy to campaign for an end to public sector pay restraint and address inequality of pay across the various departments and employer groups our members work in. Our union’s demand of a return to national pay bargaining across the Civil Service is crucial if we are to achieve cohesion on pay, and terms and conditions for our members.

 

It is for these reasons the NEC developed a set of core demands around pay at the heart of our national campaign last year, and pursued the unification of our members needs on pay in the statutory ballot. Our inability to meet the 50% threshold has not lessened the needs of our members in relation to pay. It is this need to win for our members that drives the union in carrying on our national pay campaign and provides us with the determination to build our capacity to deliver the necessary turnout in any future statutory ballot.

 

The political uncertainty surrounding Brexit has presented PCS with a rare opportunity to pursue these demands and create a climate in which we can maximise the pressure and build our leverage on an increasingly weak government to achieve our aims.

 

We are clear that the unifying approach of building our campaign around a set of core demands the same across all departments creates the best opportunity to achieve this pressure, and force the government and the Treasury to accede to our demands.

 

It is this unifying approach that built the momentum last summer which saw nearly 51,000 members vote for industrial action over pay.

 

The biggest ever turnout in a national statutory ballot on pay, may not have got past the 50% threshold imposed by this government’s anti-Trade Union laws, but it overwhelmingly showed the government and the respective government departments, that low pay is a huge issue for our members, and gave us a platform on which to build.

 

Build to win on pay

 

Lessons have been learned and feedback from branches and previous regional pay briefings have shown that building our organisational capacity is the key to delivering a successful ballot result.

 

The current consultation with branches and groups is based on the revised NEC strategy of running a ballot in March across the core Civil Service departments – rather than across the wider membership – and on revamping the pay claim upwards to 8-10%. This strategy is specifically aimed at focusing on our larger organised areas and reviewing demands that resonate with our members across all departments.

 

The focus on the major departments will allow us to build our capacity and target our resources on areas that most need our support, while helping build the maximum pressure necessary to win on pay.

 

An end to the division that threatens our campaign

 

It is understandable in light of the previous ballot result, that some comrades are a little bruised after the massive effort they put in last time round. But it is clear that it was our organisational capacity in a number of areas which meant we didn’t hit the threshold, not the strategy we adopted as a union or the type of ballot we ran.

 

It is unfortunate that a number of comrades within Left Unity are still pushing the idea of a disaggregated ballot rather than unite behind the NEC’s agreed strategy. Their strategy of separate group ballots would mean the union needing to declare separate ballot results, effectively showing our strengths and weaknesses to the employer and isolating those who failed to meet the threshold.

 

This unnecessary distraction is in our view undermining our efforts to deliver on our national pay campaign, with time that should be spent on building our engagement with the wider membership and improving our organising capacity, being used to debate a failed strategy.

 

If we are to succeed in winning on pay for our members we need to be united now more than ever behind a single strategy with common aims. While it is perfectly acceptable to debate different strategies to achieve our goals, by calling for a disaggregated ballot we run the risks highlighted above and fly in the face of our key demand for a return to national pay bargaining.

 

Socialist View call on all members of Left Unity, and indeed Independent Left, to pull back from pursuing this strategy and unite to deliver a successful ballot result.

 

Re-election over members needs

 

Disgracefully, the proposal to add other group specific demands to the central pay demands has again been raised by AGS Baugh this week. Without support from any area of the country or group, and now without the backing of his own SP comrades on the NEC, this issue has already been debated by the PCS NEC and at Left Unity conference in December and was overwhelmingly rejected in both debates.

 

More than any other current issue, this conservative industrial strategy highlights the strategic approach championed by Chris Baugh for over 30 years, and which has defined much of his tenure as AGS.

 

His pursuit of Group ballots around a series of separate demands, even if they include a central element on pay, do not constitute a national pay dispute, instead you would have a series of group disputes with the national union relegated to the role of simply trying to co-ordinate action and again allowing employers to pick us off department by department.

 

Socialist View have held firm in our belief that Chris would continue to pursue his own agenda regardless of the impact his approach and strategy would have on our union, our national campaign and our members’ interests. We believe this proves us right and shows he has little to no faith in our members’ ability to win on pay and the other key issues they face. Chris is effectively calling for an end to the national pay campaign as he knows our demands cannot be achieved through this strategy.

 

We call on the Socialist Party to formally, and publicly, distance themselves from Chris’s latest attempt to ignore PCS and Left Unity policy and undermine the national pay campaign, and we urge all Left Unity members to reject these attempts to weaken us and support Stella Dennis in the AGS election.

 

The future of our pay campaign, PCS and LU democracy, and our members’ interests cannot be left in the hands of a man who has such scant regard for their importance, and who places his own interests ahead of those of our union and our members.

 

VOTE STELLA DENNIS FOR AGS – DEFEND THE NATIONAL PAY CAMPAIGN

Solidarity with RMT strikers against Fascist attacks

Manchester RMT solidarity picket

PCS activists including Stella Dennis joined the solidarity picket for the RMT against the Nazis at Manchester Victoria station on Saturday (12 January).  A group of Nazis had threatened RMT strikers last week threatening and racially abusing the pickets.

The RMT were on their 43rd strike day in their campaign to stop Northern Rail cutting Guards from the trains when the Nazis turned up to abuse them. They focused on a Sikh RMT member who spoke to around 150 protesters on Saturday about defending jobs and safety on the railways. About the Nazis he said, “If we ignore them they will grow stronger, we must defeat them”.·

Nahella Ashraf from Stand up to Racism said, “The fascists want to attack the working class… wherever they march, and attack our brothers and sisters, our comrades, we need to stop them because we are the majority.”

The fascists around the DFLA and ‘Tommy Robinson’ have been gaining confidence feeding off official islamophobia. Their recent attacks on a socialist bookshop, RMT activists and Owen Jones at the People’s Assembly demonstration are a reminder that they have a far wider agenda.

The solidarity picket was joined by delegations from Unison branches, GMB, NUJ, UCU, Labour Councillors, Manchester Momentum, Stand up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism, Jewish Voices for Labour as well as Manchester and Trafford Trade Councils and LGBT+ Against Islamophobia.

Support Stella Dennis and Defend the National Pay Campaign

AGS Re-Run – Support Stella Dennis 

The news that Janice Godrich was unable to accept the Left Unity nomination for AGS following her defeat of Chris Baugh, was greeted by sadness and concern.

Her positive campaign; the platform on which she stood, together with the dignity she has shown throughout the election process, had resonated with Left Unity Members.

This was reflected not just in Janice’s own defeat of Chris Baugh, but in the overwhelming endorsement of all other SV candidates standing on the same platform.

Socialist View supporters have always been clear that the campaign for the PCS AGS Left Unity nomination was never about two individuals, rather, it was a debate about fundamental differences in policy and programme, and the future direction of our union.

That’s why Socialist View are urging members of Left Unity to nominate and support Stella Dennis in this election. Stella is standing on a platform of support for the national pay campaign, support for conference policy and lay democracy, and support for Left Unity policy. She is committed to working with Mark Serwotka, the NEC and lay representatives throughout the union.

Stella is a vastly experienced trade unionist with a proud record as both a senior lay official within PCS, its predecessor union CPSA, and as a Full Time Officer of the union since 2005.

She is standing on the basis of her experience and record of achievement within our union over three decades. Stella was the first Woman President of the DWP Group, the largest in the union, a post she was elected to for 12 years, and she was the driving force in setting up the Group Equality Committees, and writing them into the Group Constitution.

As a FTO Stella was the Senior National Officer responsible for the union’s finances throughout the period the government was trying to close down our union through the withdrawal of check off. In that role she drew up the plans to ensure that PCS achieved financial security despite the loss of income that threatened the very existence of PCS.

As a group secretary and as the lead FTO responsible for two regional offices she has been at the forefront of ensuring FTOs worked with reps and branches recruiting more reps and members in order to build a stronger union.

 

Defend the National Pay Campaign

The differences between Socialist View, Chris Baugh and the Socialist Party on policy, strategy and in the methods they use are increasingly evident. No more so than in the case of the national pay campaign.

The strategy agreed by the PCS conference is to strengthen the union in every workplace with a view to winning an aggregated national pay ballot for industrial action. With Brexit looming, the union has a unique opportunity to leverage the government using this strategy. This was endorsed by LU with Chris Baugh’s position for disaggregated ballots with groups adding their own shopping basket of demands overwhelmingly defeated

Despite this defeat, Chris and his supporters have continued to pursue their own agenda, opposing the agreed national pay strategy. His refusal to accept the agreed policy and strategy of the union and Left Unity goes beyond legitimate debate and discussion.

At a time when we need maximum unity around our agreed strategy on pay, to deliver a campaign that will defend the living standards of our members and pave the way for a return to national pay bargaining, we have the Socialist Party sabotaging the unions democratically agreed strategy. The continued call by Chris and the SP for a disaggregate ballot weakens the national pay campaign and undermines the best ever opportunity to secure a return to national pay bargaining by exerting maximum leverage on the crisis-torn Tory government.

If Groups added their own demands around cuts, closures and terms & conditions, the unifying theme of the national ballot would be broken, leaving the employer free to settle departmentally on those specific demands in departments. The argument for a disaggregated ballot with Group specific issues is therefore essentially an argument for separate Group disputes rather than a national campaign on pay.  This strategy was proposed and debated at the NEC meeting; and it was emphatically rejected. Stella also rejects this strategy and urges Left Unity members to as well.

Chris and his supporters claim that they are merely exercising their “right of tendency” but Socialist View rejects this. While debate and disagreement is healthy in any democracy and a bedrock of any socialist organisation, we do not accept Chris has any right to claim this as the union’s second most senior elected official.

Socialist View believe that Left Unity members have a right to expect that their candidate for AGS would abide by the democratic decision of our conference.

By contrast Stella is committed to continuing the pay campaign based on the policies debated and agreed by the NEC, PCS ADC and Left Unity conference. A strategy that involves uniting behind central demands on pay, opposing ongoing pay restraint and building our organisational capability, while consulting widely for a further national statutory ballot in the spring.

Support for a Corbyn-led Government.

But this is not the only example of the Socialist Party and Chris putting their own narrow interests ahead of the interests of the union. Their claim that Chris must be elected as AGS or the union risks bending its knee to a Labour Government is completely divorced from realty as is the suggestion that Mark Serwotka would “sell out” to a Corbyn led Labour Government. Civil Servants along with millions of other workers are looking for a Corbyn led Labour Government to solve their problems. Of course it will be up to PCS to ensure Corbyn delivers on his promises, including the promise to reintroduce national pay bargaining, but painting Corbyn as somehow the enemy certainly does nothing to advance the interests of PCS members.

 

Left Unity democracy

Left Unity is an open democratic organisation that exists to provide fighting policies that defend and advance our members interests.

There have been numerous examples of attempts to undermine the democratic decisions and process of Left Unity. These include publically challenging the results of the LU elections; criticising  the elected LU scrutineers, demanding election regulations that they forced through the LUNC then be ignored just to increase their vote;  making accusations against the LUNC  of “direct interference” and damaging the reputation of LU, and organising nomination and voting meetings at times and places that the majority of members in the area have made clear they cannot attend and ignoring reasonable requests to consider alternatives dates and venues.

Supporters of Chris are now openly accusing Stella Dennis of standing simply as a stalking horse for Lynn Henderson. An outrageous slur on a woman with an outstanding record of battling against the old right wing in PCS and who has been at the forefront of leading disputes both in her branch and across her group.

Yet despite these tactics Chris and his supporters continue to claim they are the last bastions of lay democracy.

Left Unity and more importantly PCS members deserve better. We need a Left Unity AGS candidate who is experienced and committed to promoting PCS and Left Unity policy and not their own narrow political agenda.

Comrades, we call on all PCS Left Unity members to nominate and support Stella Dennis for AGS and defend the future of our union.

 

 

 

 

National Elections

Lynn Henderson declaration

Supporters of Socialist View will note with interest the announcement today that Lynn Henderson has declared her intention to stand in next year’s PCS AGS election.

In Lynn’s statement, she has confirmed her support for Left Unity’s elected Presidential candidate, Fran Heathcote, as well as for the Democracy Alliance slate which was published earlier today. This is obviously to be welcomed, as is her commitment to implementing the union’s policies, including the policy of ADC and the strategy of the NEC for a national pay campaign based on central pay demands.

While these commitments are to be welcomed, that should not be confused with an endorsement by Socialist View.

Lynn is not the Socialist View AGS candidate, with a decision on the SV candidate to be taken early in the New Year, and Lynn will not be the Left Unity candidate, as she is not a member of Left Unity.

Comrades, we will take our own time in deciding who we support moving forward, after consulting with those who have backed us throughout the last 7 months.

Democracy Alliance slate

We welcome the publication earlier today of the Democracy Alliance slate for National Officer, NEC and block vote elections in 2019.

The overwhelming support of our preferred candidates in the LU election process, is testament to the platform on which we stood, and to the work our supporters put in during a difficult and often hostile few months.

Socialist View are committed to supporting the published slate in next year’s elections, and the policies of both PCS and Left Unity, agreed by the respective conferences in May and December.

Thank you

It has been a testing and often trying 6 months or so for many of you who stood up to support Janice Godrich, Fran Heathcote and the Socialist View endorsed candidates within Left Unity.

It is with genuine sadness that we have had to accept Janice’s withdrawal of her candidacy on health grounds, and we know that has created some confusion and uncertainty.

We are sure you will agree that is only right and proper to place on record our best wishes to Janice for a speedy recovery and to let her know she is genuinely, as much in our thoughts now as she was throughout the campaign to elect her as our AGS candidate.

We now look forward to our engagement with Socialist View supporters as to who we support as AGS candidate, but we do so knowing the reasons for our campaign are as necessary today as they were in May, if not more so.

Recent developments over the national pay campaign have highlighted exactly why we have made the stand we have this year. Our support for both national PCS and LU policy on pay, is in stark to contrast to opposition of both from Chris Baugh and his supporters. They continue to sow division, hidden behind a public message of it merely being a difference in strategy, when we know their path would effectively kill the national campaign around core demands on pay. .

A widespread consultation is taking place across the union throughout January and SV are fully committed to supporting the union’s national policy, as set by ADC, as well as the strategy set out by the NEC to implement that policy, and we will continue to oppose any attempts to undermine or abandon that campaign, whether motivated by the AGS election or otherwise.

The policies and candidates we campaigned hard for are in place, and we now intend to ensure we implement and elect them in 2019.

We thank you for your continued support and solidarity, and wish you all the very best for the festive season.

Enjoy your break, no matter how brief, and be ready to carry on our campaigning in the New Year.

NEC DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE & CONFERENCE ELECTION SLATE 2019

NEC DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE &CONFERENCE ELECTION SLATE 2019

Assistant General Secretary (1)

To be confirmed after election

 

President (1)

Fran Heathcote – DWP Northumbria & Tyneside

 

Vice Presidents (4)

Martin Cavanagh – DWP Wirral

Jackie Green – MOJ Bradford

Zita Holbourne – BIS London North

Kevin McHugh – HMRC Benton Park View

 

NEC (30)

Mark Baker – DCLG Bristol & South West

Fiona Brittle – DWP Greater Glasgow

Paula Brown – HSE National Branch

Clive Bryant – HMRC Worthing

Harvey Crane – HMRC Anglia

Alan Dennis – MOD DSg South Central

Felicity Flynn – MOJ

Jimmy Gill – DWP Cardiff & District

Angela Grant – DWP Wirral

Sam Hall – DWP Highlands & Islands

Austin Harney – MOJ Associated Offices

Kris Hendry – R&C East Kilbride

John Jamieson – Registers of Scotland

Neil License – HMRC Yorks & North Lincs

Marion Lloyd – BIS Yorks & Humber

John McInally – DWP HQ London

Kenny McKay – Comm Sec IT Services Glasgow

John Maguire – MOJ Greater Manchester

Lorna Merry – HMRC London HQ

Marianne Owens – HMRC South Wales

Ian Pope – DWP Glasgow

Annette Rochester – DWP Birmingham North

Alison Roder – MOJ HQ Branch

Dave Semple – DWP Greater Glasgow

Steve Thorley – CPS East Midlands

Candy Udwin – CMSOA National Gallery

Karen Watts – MOJ Wessex

Hector Wesley – HMRC Euston Tower

Paul Williams – Dft Nottingham

Reserved – Commercial Sector – to be confirmed

after election.

 

Editorial Board (5)

Malcolm Clarke – Scot Gov Edin Central

Stephen Finch – DWP Tees Valley

Kevin McCafferty – DWP Greater Glasgow

Clara Paillard – CMSOA Nat Museums Liverpool

Robert Young – R&C Glasgow & Clyde

 

TUC (6)

Keith Brockie – Scot Gov Edin Leith

Kate Douglas – DWP Bucks & Oxfordshire

Mark Emmerson – HMRC Stockton & Nth Yorks

Louis Kowalska – SG Edinburgh Leith

Gordon Rowntree – HMRC Stockton & Nth Yorks

Steve Swainston – DWP Durham House

 

WTUC (3) – These candidates were elected unopposed, however as limitations apply the LUNC will need to discuss this.

Kate Douglas – DWP Bucks & Oxfordshire

Rachel Heemskerk – DWP Essex

Liz McGachey – DWP Glasgow

 

Youth TUC (2)

Its just been identified that the candidates elected unopposed will both be to old for the 2020 Youth TUC conference. This will be discussed at the next LUNC.

 

Scottish TUC (4)

Sharon King – MOJ Scotland Branch

John Livingston – Greater Glasgow

Fiona McDonald – SG West & Central Scotland

Sarah Valentine – DWP Glasgow

 

Scottish Womens TUC (2)

Sharon Edwards – HMPO Scotland

Liz McGachey – DWP Glasgow

 

Scottish Youth (2)

It has also been identified that the candidates elected unopposed will both be out of the age range, which is 26 for the Scottish Youth TUC conference. This will be discussed at the next LUNC.

 

Member Trustee (1)

None

Socialist View – where next for PCS Left Unity?

Saturday 1st December saw PCS Left Unity members from across the country gather in Manchester for LU’s annual national conference.

 

The Mechanics Institute provided an historic backdrop – 150 years after the first TUC Congress took place in the same venue – to what many will see as a defining moment for PCS Left Unity and within the union itself.

 

Debate on a number of key issues facing the union’s members was held, ranging from Domestic Violence to Universal Credit and Brexit to the Gender Recognition Act, but the two stand out, and most contentious, debates were without doubt on the National Pay Campaign and the Left Unity elections.

 

Left Unity elections – clear mandate given to the Socialist View platform

 

With the start delayed due to major travel disruption a number of “non-contentious” issues were debated, before the LU National Secretary’s report was delivered.

 

The LU election results, which had been confirmed the previous weekend in the scrutineers “Interim Report”, had seen success for all of the candidates supported by Socialist View. These included clear margins of victory for both Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote for the posts of AGS and National President. The results also confirmed significant wins for SV candidates seeking the LU nomination in the National Vice Presidents category and for Left Unity National Chair.

 

In each case the Socialist Party’s candidates were clearly defeated, although in spirit of unifying LU in next year’s elections Socialist View had ensured sufficient spaces for incumbent SP comrades to remain on the slate.

 

Rather than accept the outcome of the elections, as had been publicly stated would be the case, the Socialist Party and other supporters of Chris Baugh spent much of the build up to the conference publicly challenging the validity of the results and the scrutineers report. This despite one of the scrutineers being a longstanding SP member.

 

To be clear their contention was in response to both scrutineers agreeing to disallow a number of votes as they had contravened the LU election regulations, laid down by the LU National Committee and the Chair, Marion Lloyd.

 

Incredibly it was Marion Lloyd herself who was the first to post an article, not within LU but on a factional website, challenging the decision to discount votes which had breached the rules she had jointly drafted.

 

Due to the unprecedented level of misinformation and co-ordination of complaints, the Secretary, Gordon Rowntree, placed a recommendation before conference that would allow some of the votes to be included. This in no way challenged the integrity or decisions of the scrutineers, but rather was aimed at removing these spurious objections and to show, even with these votes added, no material difference would have been made to the key results.

 

Unfortunately, supporters of the incumbent AGS were still dissatisfied and tried to force through an emergency motion on to the agenda paper, aided by the outgoing chair Marion Lloyd, to count votes, including those that could not be verified and, incredibly, some that hadn’t been received.

 

An often heated two and a half hour debate followed which resulted in two-thirds of conference agreeing to the Secretary’s proposal and the declared result showed overwhelming support for all SV candidates in a clear endorsement of the platform on which they stood.

 

Comrades should be in no doubt to acquiesce to this attempt to subvert democracy would have been fundamentally wrong. The SP continue to argue that it’s unfair to discount votes due to “minor clerical error” but this side show must be countered. The non-receipt of votes or votes received with no way of identifying the sender aren’t merely clerical errors. They are invalid and to include them would have gone against the most basic principles of union democracy.

 

Sad news

 

Unfortunately, on Sunday 2nd December, in the same message that declared the outcome of the elections to Left Unity members, it was announced that Janice Godrich had withdrawn her candidacy for AGS on health grounds.

 

This was greeted by sadness and concern in equal measure by Janice’s supporters in this election. Without doubt the positive campaign which Janice had ran and the dignity she had shown throughout the election period had resonated with Left Unity members. This was reflected not just in Janice’s own defeat of Chris Baugh for the AGS nomination, but in the overwhelming endorsement of all other SV candidates.

 

Obviously all of us who have supported Janice’s campaign wish her a speedy recovery from her current ill health and pass on our solidarity and best wishes to her.

 

Defeated candidates and strategy

 

The attention has understandably turned to what Left Unity will now do following Janice’s withdrawal.

 

The Socialist Party have unfortunately already demanded that Chris now be allowed to take the LU nomination for AGS.

 

While the LUNC will need to decide a way forward, Socialist View are clear that supporting a candidate whose methods and strategy have just been defeated, following a lengthy campaign and much debate, would create a significant problem for Left Unity and would be a huge error of judgement.

 

Chris has played his part in the history of both Left Unity and the union itself, and no one will wish to wipe that from the record, but he has become an increasingly divisive figure, and the policy and record on which he stood in this election has been overwhelmingly rejected by LU members.

 

It is equally true to say that many of those who supported Chris, adopting the same platform, have also been defeated in these elections. That cannot just be ignored or overlooked.

 

Socialist View are unequivocal in our commitment to continue our campaign based on policies debated and agreed by the NEC, PCS ADC and Left Unity conference.

 

National Pay Campaign – a clear strategy

 

The differences, between SV and Chris and his supporters, on policy, strategy and in the methods we use, are increasingly evident. No more so than in the case of the National Pay Campaign.

 

The debate that took place at last week’s LU Conference was as keenly contested as the debate on the elections. The reality though is that the conference overwhelmingly endorsed the strategy supported by the majority on the current PCS NEC and GS, Mark Serwotka. A strategy that involves uniting behind central demands on pay, opposing ongoing pay restraint at source, and building our organisational capability, while consulting widely, for a further statutory ballot in the Spring.

 

Chris and his supporters, who got behind a motion calling for a special pay conference and consultation based on disaggregated ballots, with each employer group adding it’s own demands to the central ones on pay, were again defeated by two-thirds. This strategy was not defeated merely on grounds of electoral allegiance, as some would have you believe, but by the majority of delegates understanding that the strategy proposed by Chris and his supporters is divisive and effectively an abandonment of the national pay campaign.

 

You would think this would be the end of this debate as LU has set clear policy in which to unite moving forward. Indeed in the recent SP article claiming we should all now unite behind Chris, it argues “His selection would allow Left Unity to move forward into the elections and ensure the union is able to best prepare for next year’s pay battle.”

 

This week’s events though have exposed the real division that still exists. Despite public proclamations of “unity moving forward” and us being “the best left-wing” in the movement, we have seen clear evidence that Chris and his supporters have no intention of following LU policy or working to win on pay based on the agreed strategy.

 

First, Chris’ supporters took to social media claiming they “really called them (SV) out on pay” and “fundamentally…our political and industrial intervention over the next period will not only expose their (SV) lack of any strategy to win but more importantly win more to the programme we have collectively developed through the chris4ags ags campaign”.

 

A more blatant declaration of co-ordinated opposition to existing LU policy was hard to imagine…until this week’s NEC meeting.

 

A meeting which again overwhelming endorsed the policy of a campaign based on national, common demands on pay, and building towards a statutory ballot, was subjected to calls from both the AGS and one supporter, to work towards a disaggregated ballot with each group defining its own demands based on what is “popular” with the membership.

 

While there is no problem with debating different tactics Chris Baugh’s refusal to accept the agreed policy and strategy of the union and Left Unity, goes way beyond the boundaries of legitimate debate and discussion. It is now a source of deep and irreconcilable division.

 

By Chris, and his supporters, continuing to promote a strategy that would effectively split groups and bargaining units in to separate trade disputes with their employer, it shows their determination to push ahead with a failed, industrially conservative policy which has already been rejected within LU, at ADC and by the NEC.

 

Incredibly, this week their strategy was argued for despite them having already heard clear legal advice from an eminent QC, put before the NEC, that confirmed to create a national dispute we must have common demands across each and every employer group.

 

The strategy of separate core demands cannot be the basis of a unified campaign, but equally a disaggregated ballot with core demands on pay also has its weaknesses and risks division, with smaller employer groups particularly at risk of being sidelined and at the mercy of a hostile employer.

 

While there is no question that members are angry over many issues other than pay, we must not use that anger to undermine or abandon the national pay campaign. Instead we should be using our members justifiable concerns over issues such as staffing, office closures and attacks on T&C’s to bolster the pay campaign and win any new statutory ballot. If we achieve that as a national union our other group demands are far more achievable, although we would must also continue to campaign for our demands on these and other issues at group and branch level.

 

Supporters of Socialist View have consistently argued by adding demands, specific to any group of members, we would divide our union, and effectively abandon our national pay campaign.

 

This view has now been endorsed by LU national conference, while simultaneously rejecting the industrially conservative strategy espoused by our detractors, which ultimately shows a lack of confidence in the union and our members’ ability to win.

 

PCS have a unique opportunity to campaign for our core demands on pay and push for a return to national pay bargaining, but that opportunity can only be taken if we put pressure on central government and the Treasury, and not by speaking across the table to individual employers on members pay.

 

We must unite the left

 

We are entering a crucial period for our union and our members.

 

In a time of unparalleled uncertainty, one thing is crystal clear…our union needs a campaign that can win for our members, and Left Unity must be driving that campaign.

 

The strategy we have championed, the one endorsed by union conference, the NEC and now LU conference, can deliver that winning campaign, but only if we are united behind it.

 

Equally, Left Unity can only continue to be a leading organisation on the left of our movement if we reject unnecessary division.

 

We urge the new LUNC to write and ask Chris Baugh to step aside, in the interests of unifying and strengthening the left, not endorse his nomination as AGS candidate.

 

We can then all move on and achieve the victory our members need and deserve.

 

Conclusive result – go forward in unity

Left Unity National Conference took place yesterday in Manchester and comrades will have seen the election results by now, which were declared by the outgoing chair, Marion Lloyd, alongside a message of solidarity and unity to Left Unity members going forward.

These election results represent a very important decision for PCS, with Socialist View candidates winning every election, and our position on motions being carried forward in every debate.

Left Unity members should not under-estimate the scale of the majority at the conference, which was approximately 41/19.

Our position on pay was completely vindicated by the conference,  with calls for a special pay conference and disaggregated ballots instead of a national pay campaign being roundly defeated.

Our position on this and all other main issues is therefore now Left Unity policy, which is significant.

It is with real sadness that it was announced tonight that Janice Godrich, having been elected as Left Unity’s AGS candidate, is no longer well enough to continue.

This matter will be dealt with as a priority by the incoming Left Unity National Committee in order that Left Unity can move forward with the maximum unity.

Solidarity to all of our supporters and thank you for your hard work during the Left Unity election campaign,

Yours fraternally

 

Fran Heathcote – Left Unity presidential candidate.