Yesterday the National Shop Steward Movement (NSSN) held its' long announced lobby of the TUC General Council. They even managed to obtain the support of Bob Crow (RMT) and Steve Gillam of the Prison Officers union (POA). Also present were various members of the Socialist Party who have seats on their unions executives or other leading bodies. Even that Steve Hedley fellow turned up. So who was very noticeable by their absence?
The PCS union despite being controlled by the Socialist Party and having a high profile General Secretary Mark Serotka who also favours a General Strike were all missing. It was left to Socialist Party hack Linda Taffe to even mention PCS. I know the PCS elections are currently running but I wouldn't have thought they were that concerned about the outcome so much they'd miss this obvious photo opportunity.
perhaps the clue is in the attendance figures. A report on the Socialist Party website proudly proclaims "up to 200 trade unionists, workers and campaigners" turned up. Rather a small number for such a lobby and frankly having viewed the video and the carefully taken photos I'm not actually convinced it was even half that. Hardly a mass show of support for a General Strike, work day or not.
There is of course another problem, PCS has been running a dispute with a quite clear intent of using it as a "springboard" for the General Strike. Trouble is it has not been anywhere near as successful as they would have liked. In fact despite reports on the PCS website the dispute in the Home Office turned into a farce and then a clear failure as Owen Dodd reported on this blog a couple of days ago.
Worse than that the Metropolitan Police (Civilian Staff) have not moved to action since the initial one day strike, practically no one (just 4 in fact came out) in the Coastguards/Maritime section and numbers clearly declined elsewhere. Undeterred PCS announced 10 weeks of action today, with sections of the union taking a days strike each over these weeks.
Its no wonder Hugh Lanning started querying the unions industrial policy before he took an early bath. The whole strike has been artificially manipulated from the beginning by the Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership for purely political rather than trade union objectives. Support in the ballot was low with quite a high vote against which should have given any rational leadership pause for thought.
But Serwotka's not for turning to coin a phrase.
Such grandstanding marked the beginning of the end for the "Iron Lady" and with disillusion amongst PCS members highly visible at the moment, forcing additional disputes will probably just weaken the union further.
Despite the headlines in PCS circulars, magazines and websites there is little desire for this dispute to continue. It has achieved nothing, except lead many members to question the future of PCS as a trade union.
Neither a General Strike or a viable dispute in the civil service (which is not supported by the other CS unions) are currently on the horizon and manic sloganeering nor constant badgering of the members will change this. Despite everything the will to go down such a road does not exist except in the minds of deluded trotskyists.
It is time to step back and re-think strategy both industrial and political. If we don't the outcome further down the line may be one PCS will not come back from.