Sunday, 19 May 2013

PCS conference meets as crisis of confidence in union grows

Delegates have started arriving in Brighton for the 2013 Annual Conference of the PCS Union. This will probably be the last one in its' current format as the Government are shortly to remove all trade union specific facility time from reps across the civil service. This has already effected the DWP Group where delegates were not allowed special leave like the rest of their colleagues due to the apparent inept handling of negotiations by Left Unity.

As a result there will be empty seats in the DWP Group conference with many delegates unable to use their "annual leave" to attend. Those who are able to attend should support the South London Branch motion A103, previously published on this blog (

Of course the issue of "Facility Time" as important as it is to the survival of PCS as an effective union is not the only problem that delegates need to address. On Friday afternoon an "urgent" message for reps in the DWP (and HMRC) was sent out informing them that:

As part of our national campaign to defend pay, jobs and conditions, all PCS members in DWP and HMRC are asked to take joint regional strike action from 3 June to 7 June.
All members in the following areas are asked to take a full day’s strike action.... 

Given how badly recent turnouts have been, the leadership of PCS are determined to continue with their failed strategy. John McInally, PCS Vice President and Socialist Party hack writes:

The re-election of the Democracy Alliance national executive committee is a real blow to the government's attempt to break PCS members' resolve.
The re-election of a fighting left leadership is a mandate to continue with the strategy of industrial action of varying duration and timing which is causing disruption and real concern among management. It is also an endorsement of the union's campaign against austerity.
The alternative promoted by PCS is now widely supported and is gaining further endorsement throughout the trade union movement and beyond.

This years election saw the lowest turnout ever in PCS elections with just 9.5% of members voting. In the DWP it was even less with just 8%. Given the Democracy Alliance didn't win all the votes cast, their "mandate", whilst formally legitimate, lacks the moral high ground that McInally claims.

Most members have disengaged from the unions internal affairs and none of the factions can claim to have the backing of any substantial number of members. This of course bodes ill for the future, especially with the PCS leadership making claims about the veracity of further strike action when all the evidence shows not only declining support for action (which was supported only by a small minority of members in the initial ballot) but fails to recognise that the continuing action has led to no movement by the Government who are more than aware of the real situation on the ground than the unions leaders are prepared to admit to themselves.

In a situation like this it would be better to withdraw, regroup and rethink the unions policies before there is a real disaster, but McInally belongs to the arrogant tradition of politicians like Margaret Thatcher in that he's not for turning. The ones that will suffer will be the members, and in the long term risks the future of PCS.

The fact that the political activists of the far left have become a "caste" of their own within the union are seemingly confirmed by the scandalous "retirement of Hugh Lanning, the former PCS General Secretary. He still had two years to run in post but was allowed to take "early retirement" on a whim it would appear and then miraculously re-appear a couple of weeks later standing for General Secretary of Napo (National Association of Probation Officers).

The fact that Mark Serwotka has "recommended" him to Napo members means that he and others were obviously well aware of Lannings plans in advance and questions need to be asked about this as if all he wanted to do was change jobs, why are members subbing him through a pension when the union is in financial difficulties. Oh, I bet its' all legal, but smacks of the "bankers bonuses" syndrome that they condemn constantly.

One last issue (for now) is the continuing crisis in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency caused by the intervention of the General Secretary and his sidekick McInally who have suspended the SOCA President and two Assistant Group Secretaries and forbidden them from even attending conference to explain or defend their decisions to fellow delegates.

The entire SOCA Group Conference has been hijacked by the PCS Grandees in an obvious attempt to stifle open and democratic debate, true Marxist style. It will be interesting to see how this develops both over the week and beyond. Go to: for the background.

Contrary to the thoughts of Chairman McInally, PCS is actually becoming more and more isolated not only in the trade union movement, but in political life in general. Its' no wonder that members are switching off. PCS is now run entirely for the benefit of far-left political activists, that needs to change and change fast,

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