Defending the Left Unity General Secretary selection process

The new Broad Left Network (BLN) grouping set up within PCS, and a minority of its supporters, have recently taken to social media posting articles in the group’s name which require serious scrutiny by members and activists alike. The two most recent articles in particular show exactly why BLN needs to be seen for what it is – a Socialist Party front within PCS. Disingenuous from the start, the statement that ‘we were just a group of like-minded comrades who came together and agreed unanimously to support Marion Lloyd for PCS General Secretary’ masked what was really going on and disrespects members intelligence.

 

Presumably, with no democratic process, this like-minded group agreed that Marion would be the candidate most likely to stand against Mark Serwotka, following the SP’s recent defeat in the AGS election.

 

Lack of support for GS candidate and false allegations

With great fanfare BLN announced Marion’s intention to stand, during the Left Unity (LU) nomination process, but when it became clear that she had received embarrassingly few nominations for general secretary, Marion quickly withdrew her nomination, claiming that the LU process was corrupt and favoured one candidate. That candidate we can presume is Mark Serwotka, who received 16 nominations compared to Marion’s 4 and Hector Wesley’s 1.

 

Members should be clear Marion did not pull out because the election process was flawed, but because of a humiliating lack of support. Of the four nominations that she received, one of those was only submitted when there was a tie between her and Mark Serwotka, and of the five individuals that took part in the process, the sole supporter of Hector Wesley was asked to re-vote for either Marion or Mark, something BLN do not seem keen to publicise.

 

In the same way as the Left Unity scrutineers were attacked during last year’s AGS process, now attempts are being made to discredit the Left Unity National Committee (LUNC), without any political arguments being put forward at all.

 

In the latest article ‘LU General Secretary Nomination: Where We Stand’, all credibility is lost when claims that individuals had been “arbitrarily removed from membership” are made. An allegation already made by Marion in writing to the LUNC and one which received an LUNC reply sent to LU members. The inference that LU members were removed to prevent them from voting is a complete fabrication and needs to be called out as such.

 

The individuals, all of whom joined LU in the week leading up to the cut off date to participate in the AGS election in September 2018, the majority of whom were recruited as voting fodder following the Socialist Party’s public call to “just recruit anyone, friends, family, colleagues, anyone who will vote for Chris Baugh” have now voted in two AGS elections, alongside the NEC elections, leading up to 2018 LU conference without paying subs.

 

To date none of them have paid a single penny in subscriptions, despite the Left Unity rules that Marion alludes to being clear that only those paying subs at the cut off date will be eligible to vote. As soon as this came to light by the treasurer providing a payment update in May 2019, all received a letter stating that if any of them had any evidence of having paid they would be included in the process – none did.

 

The inclusion of these non-payers in the AGS elections made a material difference to the result but this appears to have passed the SP by in their haste to attempt to blame the elected LUNC for the lack of support for Marion. Socialist View believe any rationally minded union member will accept that, rather than these individuals being “arbitrarily” removed from the membership list, as accused by Marion and BLN, these non-members had no right to take part in this process and it would have been perverse to allow non-paying members to vote. Rather than engage in the false debate and tactics deployed by the BLN in these articles, Socialist View would urge the LUNC to use the review of the LU constitution – it was was instructed by LU conference to carry out – to focus on ensuring that, never again, can the votes of non-paying LU members materially affect the outcome of an LU election, as it did in January in the AGS re-run between Chris Baugh and Stella Dennis.

 

Much has been made by SP, and some BLN supporters, of LU members supporting a non-LU candidate in this year’s AGS election, but very little has been made of whether the LU candidate should have been declared as such. This development warrants serious analysis and consideration.

 

Socialist View would urge those who have fallen behind BLN to seriously look at this issue and consider whether the Socialist Party narrative, that it is SV and its supporters who are the enemies of democracy is reality, or whether their claims are in fact SP projecting their own behaviours for political and sectarian purposes.

 

BLN promote exclusion

During this LU nomination process for the GS candidate, which is being held during the peak holiday period due to the timing of the official election process, the LUNC sought to maximise participation, and agreed to the inclusion of email nominations where they were requested. For example, in Dundee, where it would take members several hours to travel to their Glasgow nominating meeting by 6pm, many reported that this would make it impossible for them to participate; following a request from LU members via the Scotland LU convenor, the LUNC agreed that they should be able to submit an email nomination to be taken into account at the meeting, as long as all members were afforded the same opportunity.

 

The SP supporters behind the Broad Left Network did their best to prevent the participation of those who could not attend meetings in person, for varying reasons including matters of equality, and in Scotland BLN supporters staged a coup in an attempt to remove the existing convenor, who had suspended the meeting to seek further advice from the LUNC. The LUNC, at its meeting on 3rd August, having considered a number of complaints from individual LU members in Scotland, the majority of whom wanted email votes to be included, eventually ruled out the Scotland vote but to then attack the LUNC in this article for trying to maximise participation demonstrates how desperate BLN have become.

 

Lack of support for BLN platform

On 4th August, BLN issued their missive ‘Pay Campaign, Next Steps’ describing the Senior Lay Reps forum taking place on 6th August as a ‘platform for continuing the national pay campaign in 2019 and preparing the ground for a successful national ballot in the future’. They went on to say ‘The Senior Lay Reps Forum is a chance to receive reports from delegated areas but more importantly, to discuss how PCS nationally can both support and actively coordinate a response in the 2019 pay round.’

 

Concluding that ‘The Broad Left Network welcomes this vital discussion at the Senior Lay Reps Forum. With an open and honest assessment of where we are, we can maintain pressure on pay in 2019 and prepare the ground to win the decisive legal mandate vital for reversing the decline in members pay and winning the union’s demands.’

 

Given all of this, it is somewhat surprising then that most of BLN’s supporters, including the author of the article, missed the forum, despite attendance by over 50 activists from across PCS, and this valuable ‘platform’ was therefore missed, when the forum took crucial feedback from pay negotiators in groups about the 2019 pay round that will help inform the union’s next steps.

 

Rather than engage in this important process BLN supporters and SP members continue to suggest that if their strategy of a disaggregated ballot had been utilised “we would now be in a situation where a number of areas would be taking action over pay”. This is a deliberate falsification. Specific Trade Disputes would need to be registered in each of the areas concerned for legal industrial action to follow, and the effect of this is a series of different Group ballots which may be co-ordinated where practical to do so. BLN supporters on the NEC know this full well as they would have been party to the NEC decision following the appropriate legal advice earlier this year. Yet they persist with consciously misleading members to further their own agenda. Members should be aware that when the CWU obtained a strike vote which exceeded the 50% turnout threshold in late 2017, Royal Mail won an injunction to stop the Union taking action because it had not exhausted its agreed mediation process, so there are serious and credible threats to the course of action being proposed by a number of BLN supporters.

 

None of the areas listed in the BLN bulletin, as having exceeded the ballot threshold, argued for this strategy at the SLRF and not all of them have concluded their 2019 pay talks yet. Of course, where members vote to reject their respective pay offers, and this results in any Bargaining Unit making a case to the National Disputes Committee for industrial action, SV would support all steps to deliver that and seek to co-ordinate multiple BU actions wherever possible.

 

New depths

If the above were not enough to question the seriousness of the BLN ”leadership”, their article posted on 8th August, as well as repeating the lies about the election process, goes on to state that Hector Wesley, the only remaining candidate standing against Mark Serwotka in the LU process, ‘is not in agreement with the way in which LU is being run by the LUNC’. They fail to mention that Hector is a member of the LUNC which met on Saturday 3 August, a meeting that Hector attended, and where he agreed with the current process and said that he was content that it was fair. Hector voted with the rest of the committee, in support of the Secretary’s recommendation that the Scotland vote be excluded, while the sole SP member at the meeting argued that the votes taken after the convenor and his supporters had left to seek advice, should still be included.

 

The article goes on to attack Mark Serwotka claiming that ‘for over 20 years, he has increasingly centralised power and decision making’ along with other sectarian untruths, aimed at spreading dissent and appealing to all those disaffected. Further evidence, if any were needed, of the Socialist Party lashing out as they fall apart and become increasingly irrelevant both within PCS, and elsewhere. The truth is that PCS is one of the most democratic unions in our movement with a proud record of lay involvement and leadership.

 

Their call to support Hector Wesley ‘as a protest’ is a particular low point for SP. To be clear Socialist View unequivocally support Hector’s right to stand in this election, but it is clear from his election address that he is not standing on a political platform that offers a radically new direction for PCS or one that, compared to Mark Serwotka’s programme, would take the union forward and ready to meet the challenges we face. In any other time Hector’s candidacy for the LU nomination would never have drawn support from SP; their hiding behind the BLN platform to offer him this support is blatant opportunism and makes SP’s ‘Anyone but Serwotka’ strategy wholly transparent.

 

They have completely abandoned politics, following their betrayal during the PCS pay campaign and, as is the case internally within their own organisation, have turned on former comrades and jettisoned decades of political principle, with their England and Wales section effectively voting as a minority bloc within their International to set up a new International organisation over which they can retain control from London.

 

They have also exploited trans rights within PCS in order to personally attack Mark Serwotka, besmirch his character, and create division. All acts that are both contemptible and void of political principle. This is exposed as all the more hypocritical when you read Peter Taaffe’s recent attack on what he describes as ‘identity politics’ which begins to expose their real position in relation to trans rights.

 

We need a united leadership for the good of our members

SV believes the task for all Left Unity members moving forward is to build a genuine, non-sectarian left in the interests of our members. We urge all on the left to join with us in this task and not allow ourselves to be pushed off course by the sectarian attacks of those who are becoming increasingly irrelevant throughout our movement.

 

Mark Serwotka is not the enemy or a threat to our lay led democracy. Supporters of Socialist View are not poodles to the General Secretary or involved in a bureaucratic take over. It is those who put themselves and party loyalties above the interests of our members and union who risk destabilising PCS.

 

Left Unity have worked tirelessly over the last two decades and more, to build PCS in to a lay led union of which we can be proud. SV understand that we must build on that history and grow if we are to face future challenges head on. We urge members and activists to not allow a fading force on the left to continue to dominate our time and risk side tracking us from our aims.

 

Debate and disagreement is healthy in any democratic organisation, but only when the debate is meaningful and the disagreement legitimate. Dissent based on false narrative and accusation is politically illegitimate, and should never form the basis of engagement, as it has for the last eighteen months.

 

 

 

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.

 

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