Tuesday, 3 June 2014

PCS members deserve better

Guest post by Rick Johansen

In three weeks, I shall be leaving the Civil Service on a voluntary exit package.

After nearly 40 years service, I am not sorry to be going. In fact, I feel more sorry for my many friends who remain, for now.

It has been said on many occasions that things have never been as bad as they are now, that morale has never been so low as it is today. But this time I really do think it is true.

This Conservative government, enabled and supported in office by the discredited Liberal Democrats, have wreaked havoc on public services and attacked our conditions like no other government before.

PCS, the Civil Service union, has been completely unable to protect the attacks on pay, pensions, staff, nor the services they deliver.

Its failure has been total.

But in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher was in full flow, the PCS predecessor CPSA did manage to contain many of her worst excesses. Despite huge changes, such as computerisation, the union managed to do deals with the employer that, by and large, protected most members.

Move the clock forward to today and PCS is in the grip of the ultra left, in the form of the Socialist Party, the lunatic fringe previously known as the Militant Tendency.

And the ultra left does totally control the union, from its branches, its full time officials and of course its annual delegate conference so much so that there was almost no opposition to them in this year’s elections and the Socialist Party candidate was elected unopposed, with the opposition candidate unable to secure enough branch nominations to even get on the ballot paper.

This is probably not the right time to go into the catastrophic leadership of Mark Serwotka, given his health problems that will require him to have a heart transplant, but suffice to say we are where we are because of the ultra left who have all but destroyed the union.

Any issue that comes along, their first thoughts are to hold a one day strike followed up by another one day strike. Then it all fizzles out until the following year when…well, you’ve guessed it.

On 10th July, PCS is poised to hold yet another one day strike, this time to call for a pay rise (presumably the NEC have finally concluded they have lost the pensions dispute). God knows we need a pay rise but does anyone expect Cameron, Clegg and co to simply cave in because PCS, a laughing stock in the trade union movement, calls what will be a badly supported strike? I don’t think so.

So what should we do: nothing?

The simple answer to that is yes, unless you think it is a good idea to keep calling people out for one day strikes and losing any remaining public sympathy we may have.

In my judgement, PCS is a busted flush.

In my own branch, the powerhouse behind Militant fixer John McInally, many members were not even informed about trivial matters like the AGM, the Mandating Meeting and the Assistant General Secretary election, nor were they consulted by the NEC about last year’s ‘campaign’. It turned out both the AGM and Mandating Meeting were held a few feet away from the office in which I worked yet I knew absolutely nothing about it. Democracy Alliance, eh?

Whether as the failing union it now is, or after being swallowed by UNITE, PCS is not the future for Civil Servants.

Rather than being a union, it is now effectively, or rather ineffectively, a far left political party, a sort of Militant tendency paid for from the subscriptions of civil servants. It cannot be saved my more mainstream activists and it’s probably not worth saving either.

The choice is simple: do the members stick with the remnants of PCS as it lurches still further into the oblivion of far left politics or do they get the chance to join a more mainstream and effective union?

As of three weeks time, it will no longer be my problem but I do believe the members of PCS deserve better.

Far better than the wreckers of the Trotskyite left who have nothing to offer them except empty slogans, rhetoric and a near complete inability to stand up to the employer and look after members’ interests.

1 comment:

  1. I may agree with many criticisms of the current political situation within PCS. But your claims that if only we had kept the right wing leadership we could have negotiated ourselves through the current onslaught is bollocks. It was your lot that allowed the fracturing of CS national terms and conditions without a whimper. And now you have the bare faced cheek to criticise PCS for not having gotten back what you allowed to be lost in the first place. It is people like you during those crucial years that have left this legacy. As you have admitted in previous posts, you were voting fodder whilst on the SEC and were out of your depth. You certainly were. I though will continue to fight for members rights outside of the political factions in PCS. And judging by the merger debate at conference the machine has learnt it limits. But then again you wouldn't have allowed such a conference or debate would you. Steve finch (ex Godwin House)