Thursday, 8 May 2014

An uncertain future for PCS

With so much attention being paid to the merger takeover of the main civil service union PCS by Unite, many members (myself included) will have forgotten about the internal elections for which the results were announced today. With the closing down of the mainstream 4themembers group and the Independent Left being unable to stand a full slate of candidates the outcome of the election was inevitable.

The unions President crowed about the "clean sweep" achieved by the Democracy Alliance. However given the fact the turnout plummeted to an all time low it can only be seen as a Pyrrhic victory. Out of 227,000 eligible voters, just 17,000 bothered to vote. That's 8%.

Hardly a sign of the far-lefts claim that PCS is a member led union, which of course it isn't and never has been since the comrades took control. PCS is an activists led union which is leading to less and less involvement by actual members each year.

That there is a general lack of confidence in the ability of PCS to achieve much on a national scale is hardly surprising given the general economic and political situation. The other trade unions, with the possible exception of the RMT are frankly in the same position.

Members see the union more as a general "insurance" policy for when trouble arises on an individual basis. On this level PCS reps still deliver a good service though changes to conditions of service, including harsher sickness or attendance rules, performance monitoring and more is making life more difficult for all concerned.

The strategy of the PCS leadership has failed to deliver. The plan to let Unite take over the unions "engagements" is a worrying development. Many Reps and members are increasingly concerned at the seeming haste to end the Independence of PCS. The PCS Face Book page increasingly seems to be devoted to the issue and the Socialist Party are beginning to lose their grip on a layer of reps within what they would see as their "natural constituency".

A fairly typical response to the whole takeover affair was posted up by Wendy Turner:

I am another who has grave concerns regarding the 'merger' Unite are quite clearly saying that it will be a transfer of engagements, that means unite takes on the roles and responsibilities of PCS which then ceases to exist. This is very different from the info our members are receiving. Like others I smell a rat. There is something fishy going on.

At the same time the issue is garnering attention elsewhere. The Left Futures blog muses:

PCS has been severely damaged by the cuts and privatisation of this government (and the last), having lost almost a quarter of its members since 2005. If Labour does not win in 2015, further job losses and the attack on facility time will further encroach on its ability to function effectively. 

Yet while the Tories continue their "slash and burn" policy of trade union rights the PCS leadership look to the tiny and irrelevant Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition for a political alternative, which happens to be themselves.

PCS destroyed by arrogant self interest of a political cult.

The Socialist Party nee Militant.

Taxi anyone?

Vote Labour! Keep the link! Defend Trade Unions! 

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