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.

Socialist View Statement on PCS Left Unity elections 2018

Following a long campaign to decide the nominations for the Left Unity slate for next year’s PCS national elections the LU Scrutineers Interim Report was published on Sunday 25th November.
The report confirms the result of the ballot for all contested elections, including the Assistant General Secretary and National President. We are pleased that the results show both Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote have been successful in their attempt to secure the LU nomination for the posts of AGS and President respectively. Alongside Janice and Fran all other nominees, supported by the Socialist View campaign, have also been successful.
This clear result is testimony to the campaign which has been run by Janice and her supporters, and to the difference in strategy put forward via the Socialist View throughout this campaign.
The difference in policy and strategy between those of us supporting Janice, and the supporters of the incumbent Chris Baugh, have become increasingly polarised in recent weeks especially in relation to national pay campaign. The choice between building our union’s capability to improve our organisation in every workplace to win on pay, proposed by Janice and her supporters, versus the strategy, argued for by Chris and his supporters, of disaggregated group ballots linked to other employer based issues, has been a key strand to this campaign. The outcome of this election reflects the positive campaign ran by supporters of Socialist View and indicates wider support for the belief we have in our members ability to win, against the conservative approach of our opponents.
Embarrassing and worrying response
This article was to highlight the importance of PCS Left Unity moving forward in a united manner in the wake of this election.
Unfortunately the statement issued yesterday by the current Left Unity Chair, Marion Lloyd – not addressed to Left Unity members as you might expect legitimate concerns to be raised, but outside of our organisation – does nothing to foster that unity and instead only serves to create further division and suspicion.
The statement claims that “legitimate issues” have been raised by Marion as to why certain votes have been disallowed. The interim report of the two scrutineers, one a member of the Socialist Party, has confirmed they unanimously agreed to disregard a number of votes as they clearly breached the Left Unity election regulations agreed by the LUNC, and which Marion herself was instrumental in drafting. The report also confirms the discounted votes would not “materially affect” the overall result, and yet Marion claims the opposite. It is unfortunate that two areas have had their votes disallowed for failing to follow the election regulations, but to be clear from the feedback we have had from those areas, the outcome of the result would not be affected even if they had complied. This includes the result for the key posts of AGS, National President and LU National Chair.
The third “clerical issue”, which Marion is well aware of, was that one area’s vote wasn’t received by the scrutineers, and yet incredibly she is also calling for these votes to be counted. How can they be?
As a result of Marion’s statement other supporters of Chris Baugh are now openly making accusations about the ballot result, suggesting “dirty tricks” and claiming LU members are being “disenfranchised”.
Comrades should ask themselves whether it would be acceptable to count votes that fail to comply with laid down, and agreed, LU regulations, and whether we should add “votes” not received by the scrutineers? Socialist View are unequivocal in our view that it would be a travesty to do so, and against the real “best traditions of Left Unity democracy”. Rather than this being an attempt to “brush over genuine issues” – as Marion’s statement accuses the Secretary of – this amounts to blatant interference in the democratic process by the chair as she is not happy with the outcome of the ballot.
Left Unity members will be disappointed with this latest development that should be seen by those on the left for what it is; a desperate attempt to cloud the ballot result, by falsely suggesting the election was close, and creating a suspicion of wrongdoing.
Socialist View supporters have every faith that the integrity of both this election, and the scrutineers, is intact and will defend both against any false accusation or recrimination.
This has been a difficult election for members of Left Unity and understandably many were hoping we would move forward once the result was declared.
That declaration will not be until later in the week it now appears. In the meantime we would hope for a calm debate within Left Unity, despite the actions of the LU Chair.
We have for years placed our trust in the independence and integrity of the two current LU scrutineers and never once had reason to question it. We would urge all members of Left Unity, regardless of who you voted for in this election, to not fall for this appalling attempt to create confusion and suspicion.
The election results are definitive and give Janice, Fran and their supporters a clear mandate from LU members. Whatever happens behind the scenes this week, nothing will alter that reality.

Why a disaggregated ballot would be a mistake

By Marianne Owens

I am a member of the NEC and the Revenue & Customs GEC where I hold the positon of Assistant Group Secretary with portfolio responsibility for Pay Negotiations.

Reps, activists and members fought a magnificent campaign over the summer to secure one of the biggest votes in favour of industrial action in PCS’ history, unfortunately it fell short of beating the arbitrary 50% threshold imposed by the Tory Government.

In the wake of this discussion has unsurprisingly turned to what strategies we can employ in order to win the next ballot. One option which is being put forward by some members of the R&C GEC and supporters of Chris Baugh is around the tactic of as disaggregated ballot, where each group runs it’s own ballot simultaneously.

Whilst this may seem attractive to some there are some big risks to this strategy.

Firstly whilst it is accurate that each department negotiates separately around pay, it is also accurate that the framework within which each department negotiates is determined by the Government.  This was further underlined by the recent revelation that various Chief Executives and Permanent Secretaries including the CE of HMRC, had agreed a 1.5% cap on civil service pay in a meeting in February, long before the Cabinet Office Pay remit had been published and in advance of any discussions taking place with PCS at any level.

What this means is that our dispute is with the Government and the only way to break the pay cap is by taking our dispute to those who hold the purse strings. It is clear that individual departments have no control over these decisions.

A disaggregated ballot with a shopping list of demands tailored to each PCS group as being put forward by Chris and his supporters, would mean that any disputes would be with individual employers rather than the Government. I believe that this would be a mistake, opening up a platform for departments to be played off against one another and for departmental deals involving detrimental changes to our member’s terms and conditions to be struck creating a divide and rule situation amongst our bargaining areas. This would be a mistake. Feedback from using this approach in the past has been that having many sets of demands confuses and distracts our membership and weakens us by moving the focus of our energy on discussions around individual bargaining areas rather than focusing on the task of building our organisation’s strength and confidence, much better to have a clear united set of demands that all members can get behind. Diluting this with a pick and mix approach could also lead to a situation of disengagement of some sectors of our membership who would feel that issues being raised didn’t affect them. Pay affects everyone and is one demand that our whole membership can unite behind.

It has been stated that UCU were successful in running a disaggregated ballot earlier this year across Universities and Colleges, this was a fantastic campaign but it is significant that UCU are not repeating this approach for their upcoming ballot, preferring instead one united ballot across their membership.

We have already seen that following the ballot result, HMRC are pressing for a pay deal that would mean potentially serious detrimental changes to terms and conditions being offered in exchange for a pay rise. I am confident that it would not be the case that we would be having to stave off this attack if we had beat the 50% threshold.

It has also been muted that R&C group could utilise the £1 million pounds that the NEC agreed to place in the fighting fund to launch sustained action, this is also ill advised, £1 million would not stretch far in a department as big as HMRC. All groups are currently being consulted on any specific areas that could be targeted for sustained action alongside a strategy of increasing the fighting fund in the run up to any potential ballot in the spring. It should not be left to one group to fight alone, the way that we will win is through a united cross civil service campaign.

At the recent NEC meeting supporters of Chris Baugh made their position very clear as they argued in essence for an end to our national pay campaign, preferring instead to instigate group by group disputes via disaggregated ballot, working towards a possibility of a national campaign. This would leave groups exposed and vulnerable and demonstrates a lack of confidence in our reps, activists and members to deliver a successful national ballot.

I believe PCS has learnt a lot and grown as a result of the pay campaign, we now know what we need to do to get ourselves ballot ready and this work has already started. The hard truth is that there is no short cut to delivering a successful ballot. It is also not the case that some groups are more likely to beat the threshold than others, ballot return rates across the union were relatively stable. What we need to do is focus our energy of building, organising and giving confidence to our membership through the clear strategy that has been agreed by the NEC of a united cross civil service Pay campaign. This is why I believe calls for disaggregation our ballot are ill advised.

 

HMRC Activists Support Janice Godrich For Left Unity AGS Candidate

We are PCS Activists in the HMRC Group who support Janice Godrich for AGS. We include a number of senior activists and are all supporting Janice in a personal capacity.

Our Union is 20 years old this year and we have had the same team at the top for longer than the HMRC Group has been in existence.  We believe that it’s time for change.

It’s clear to us that the working relationship amongst our most senior Officers has deteriorated beyond repair.  We have a clear choice to make in this election that will determine the future direction of Left Unity and our Union.  We have a candidate who has won 17 consecutive elections against opponents from the right wing and Independent Left who is able to build consensus and work effectively alongside Mark Serwotka.  We have a candidate whose relationship with the General Secretary has completely, and visibly, broken down, and who in the last membership ballot for this post was almost beaten by a right wing rank and file candidate from DWP.

Critically for us is the strategy set out by Janice and her supporters, we believe that there is far more at stake than an election and the tasks ahead of us require clear tactical decision making that are not clouded by self -interest and petty factionalism.  The strength of our union depends entirely on our organisational capacity from workplace and branch level right through to our regions and the NEC.

Our current Pay campaign is the most important battle that we have faced as a union. Unlike her opponents, Janice is committed to building and strengthening the union from the bottom up, workplace by workplace, giving all areas of our union the support that they need to be able to win the next ballot and beyond as well as working with our allies in other unions and the shadow cabinet. This strategy is in stark contrast to her opponents who have shown they have little faith in our activists and members and have openly stated their lack of confidence in PCS to win, instead they advocate a watered down approach relying on a series of fragmented group ballots, pulling in a series of other demands that will weaken our opportunities to build an effective campaign.

Janice has consistently supported the Group particularly when a number of Group reps had all of their facilities withdrawn in 2014, when she secured extra resources for the Group to assist with the vital work of re-signing PCS members following the withdrawal of check off.

Our Conference this year voted to implement a number of steps to make our NEC more diverse and in 2019 we will see the first set of elections that ensure that traditionally underrepresented groups are part of our executive.  That commitment to diversity, at the heart of everything that we do, must be taken through to the highest levels of our Union.  We believe that Janice, our elected President 17 times running, is the right candidate for AGS in 2019.  We urge Left Unity members in HMRC to support Janice in the LU election for Assistant General Secretary candidate.

Lorna Merry, Group President & NEC

Kevin McHugh, GEC & National Vice President

Harvey Crane, GEC & NEC

Marianne Owens, AGS & NEC

Hector Wesley, Deputy President & NEC

John Smith, AGS,

Mark Emmerson, AGS

Andy Forster, GEC

Gordon Rowntree, Stockton Branch, National Standing Orders Committee

Mo Lumb GEC Benton Park View

Josie Smith LGBT+ advisory committee Benton Park View

Julie Webster, East Midlands

Huw Gingell Group Auditor S Wales

Amy Hinson GWAC S Wales

Richard Manchip S Wales

Hywel Morgan, S Wales vice chair

Margaret Rose Touati, West Mercia Branch

Martin Mellis, GEC & Anglia

Jean Manuel, Branch Sec Benton Park View

Claire Keenan Euston Tower

Cathy Darcan, NI

Paul Woolfe, NI and NI Committee Chair

DWP Reps supporting Janice for AGS

We are PCS activists in the DWP Group who hold a variety of Union positions. We are signing this statement in a personal capacity.

The DWP is the largest group within PCS and within Left Unity the DWP also has the largest membership base.

We know first hand how much Janice Godrich has led this union through it’s darkest times. It was Janice who, alongside Mark Serwotka, put her home up as collateral to defend our union’s democracy in the High Court and it has been Janice at the helm of our union throughout all the attacks from this government.

Janice has always led by unifying our activists and by standing firm in the face of hostility. People with polarised starting positions have been convinced to find common ground for the greater good and no government, or employer, has been left in any doubt as to the strength of PCS under Janice’s stewardship.

It is this strength and the need to be bold in our strategy, that is critical for the union moving forward.

Janice, and those who support her, are clear about the strategic direction our union needs to go. We must continue to build our organisational capability within every workplace if we are to succeed in the fights ahead. This is especially the case in the ongoing national pay campaign.

It is clear to us, as well as Janice and Mark, that to beat the threshold in any new statutory ballot in the spring we need to overcome the organisational issues we identified last time out.

We do not need to review or re-direct our strategy, as is being suggested by Chris Baugh and his supporters, rather we need to build our strength at workplace level and get to even more members face to face.

The single focus on breaking the ongoing pay restraint our members suffer is also of critical importance. To add a list of demands to that core aim would serve only to split group againstgroup, with competing priorities replacing a unified demand, and ultimately undermine our position.

The increasingly cautious, indeed conservative, approach displayed by the current AGS and a number of his supporters, as shown by their strategy on pay, would ultimately weaken the union in the battles we face.

No one disputes that Chris Baugh has been a leading figure within our union and on the left of PCS. We have no desire to dismiss his record and diminish the work he has done over nearly four decades.

We are though convinced that his consistent undermining of our General Secretary, and the union’s leadership on the major policies of our union, cannot continue and, alongside his industrially conservative approach, has been instrumental in the breakdown in relationship at the top of PCS.

Left Unity members are urged not to fall for the methods being deployed by Janice’s opponents in the LU election. It is, of course, healthy in any democracy to have different views and positions, and no one would suggest disagreement isn’t a key strand of any democracy. There is, however, a fundamental difference between disagreeing with someone and undermining them, and Chris has been guilty of the latter in our view in relation to the GS.

We reject the arguments, that someone should only be “removed from a role” if they have “behaved badly” and that this campaign to support Janice is tantamount to losing Chris his job.

Our opponents should be reminded that this is not a job. It is a democratically elected union position, that is granted and removed at the behest of union members, not by contractual position or entitlement.

We will be voting for Janice Godrich to be the Left Unity candidate in the 2019 AGS election,and Fran Heathcote, as LU candidate for National President.

We urge other Left Unity members to do the same.

Fran Heathcote – PCS Deputy President and DWP Group President
Martin Cavanagh – DWP Group Vice President and NEC member
Annette Rochester – DWP Group Vice President and NEC member
Angela Grant – DWP Group Assistant Secretary and NEC member
Sam Hall – DWP Group Assistant Secretary and NEC member
Ian Pope – DWP Group Assistant Secretary and NEC member
Steve Swainston – DWP Group Assistant Secretary
Rachael Watts – DWP Group Assistant Secretary
Bash Chilwan – DWP Group Treasurer
Carrie Anne Watkins – DWP Group Equality Officer
Carol Revell – DWP Group Health and Safety Officer
Louise Evans – DWP GEC
Baljit Johal – DWP GEC
Kevin McCafferty – DWP GEC
Grant McClure – DWP GEC
John McInally – DWP GEC
Brian Nairn – DWP GEC
Dave Owens – DWP GEC & DWP North West Regional Chair
Steve West – DWP GEC
John Livingstone – DWP Scotland Chair
Jimmy Gill – DWP Wales Chair
Glen Hatwood – DWP North East Regional Chair
Bridget Corcoran – DWP North East Equality Officer
Richard Capps – DWP South West Regional Chair
Steve Franks – DWP West Midlands Regional Secretary
John Freeman – DWP East Midlands Regional Chair
Stevie Dunn – DWP Central London Branch Secretary

Elect A Socialist United Leadership To Defeat The Pay Cap

A united lay leadership

We would like to thank our supporters who have worked hard during the initial round of Left Unity meetings to maximise the nominations for our candidates Janice Godrich for Assistant General Secretary,  Fran Heathcote for National President and Martin Cavanagh, Zita Holbourne and Kevin McHugh for Vice Presidents.

We are also urging Left Unity members to vote for Lorna Merry for the LUNC Chair position, and will be drawing up a slate of recommendations for all of the other elected positions to be issued shortly.

We have secured the vast majority of nominations. That includes every group in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and several areas with significant numbers of Left Unity members such as Merseyside and the North East. With the majority of LU members who voted in the nomination process supporting Janice and other Socialist View candidates we have built a winning platform for the voting round of meetings in November.

A united leadership to work with reps and members to defeat the pay cap

It’s become clear in the nomination meetings that there are serious issues for the union at stake in this election.

On the national pay campaign, our candidates stand for a renewed effort to win a fresh national ballot to defeat the pay cap, mobilising reps and members in the branches.

Our opponents lack confidence in members’ ability to take action and win, and they have argued for the defeatist strategy of falling back to Group ballots. They have argued for a dangerous policy of linking pay to other terms and conditions – against ADC policy and at a time when the Treasury are attempting to force us to accept cuts in terms and conditions as part of pay bargaining. At the recent round of branch consultations in regions and nations on pay, where our opponents raised this, it got little or no support from reps on the ground. There is no short cut or easy campaigning slogan on pay. Conference agreed that this would not be a quick campaign. We have to hold our nerve, drive out into branches and workplaces the organising steps we have agreed and stay focused on the issue that unites us all – ending the public sector pay cap. This includes strengthening the unions cross department town committees and building in every workplace.

On political campaigning, Janice and our other candidates are committed to seizing the opportunities to advance members’ interests presented by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell at the helm of the Labour Party as democratically agreed by PCS conference.

One of the dishonest arguments our opponents are putting forward is claiming the upcoming political strategy consultation is about affiliating to Labour, which no-one is proposing and which is not part of the consultation. Their half-hearted support for a Corbyn-led Labour government is against our union’s agreed conference policy aimed at taking advantage of the new situation in Labour to win a return to national civil service pay bargaining and other advances for PCS members. 

We stand for building a united union that can campaign, fight and win for members, and we urge our supporters to go out and build the biggest possible vote for Janice, Fran, Lorna and all our candidates.

Follow us on Twitter @SocialistViewPCS or contact us at socialistview@mail.com

 

Organising young members

One of the most fulfilling and worthwhile duties I have carried out since being elected to the NEC and as Deputy President is that of liaison officer for our young members network. Working with and supporting such an inspirational group of young members is a privilege.
We have built one of the most effective and organised young members’ networks in the trade union movement. We recognise that one of the most vital tasks of trade unionism is to ensure that we build the next set of activists and reps to continue to build the union.
It is well established that like recruits like, and an effective YM network, at region/ nation, and national level plays a key part in this.
We have ensured that our Young Members’ network works in all aspects of trade union activity. It builds and contributes to the negotiating and bargaining agenda for young members through our Young Members’ charter, especially in relation to contact centres. Fantastic work has also been done to encourage apprentices to join PCS and become active, but we also recognises that organising to win these demands is necessary.
Ensuring young members are active in their branches, organising events to bring more young members into PCS activity, building confidence and solidarity are all crucial work for our Young Members’ network.
It doesn’t stop there though. The recent campaigns from young workers across our.movement have been inspiring. The McDonalds strikers, the Wetherspoon campaign and the zero hours campaigns have shown that it is myth that young people aren’t interested in unions. In fact it’s the opposite. Austerity has hit young people hard.
The Government’s drive to privatise public services has enabled profit-driven providers to get rich at the expenses of young people, many of whom are dependent on food banks and without hope for the future.
Many young people are now marginalised and isolated within their own communities; increased risk from harm and exploitation of our young people has not happened overnight, and it can be shown to be directly linked to poorly thought through austerity measures.
Over a quarter of young people report feeling a lack of control over their lives; over a third feel they will have a ‘worse standard of living than their parents’; 42% feel that ‘traditional goals’ such as owning a home, or getting a steady job are ‘unrealistic’.The young will pay for political developments that they overwhelmingly did not vote for.
That’s why our Young Members’ network plays a full role in challenging austerity and putting forward an Alternative for young people. They recognise that whilst we challenge the issues in the workplace, we also have to play a role in wider social change.
As their NECLO, I ensure that they have a direct link to the NEC and that all of their issues are fed in, but that equally, they get regular reports on NEC developments that we can debate and discuss.
The debates are thought-provoking and lively and I always come away from those meetings feeling inpired and positive about their role within PCS.
People often say that young members are the future of the union, our award-winning network have shown time and again that they are very much the present.
I am standing for the role of PCS President this year within Left Unity and one of my key pledges is to continue my close working with under-represented groups to ensure that they really do have a voice and that we develop our inclusion strategies.
The extension of reserved seats on the NEC will help with this work but we must ensure that our young members’ network continues to have the ‘ear’ of the NEC and that this important network continues to develop and grow.
If you have ideas about this, you can email me at any time at: franhpcs@gmail.com
This month is Young Members’ month and we are urging all branches to fully support it and help to publicise the important work of our network. Our National Young Members’ Network have produced a range of material and you can find out more and pick up material from your nearest PCS office.
Fran Heathcote