Saturday, 13 December 2014

End of check off hastens the decline of PCS

On Friday afternoon the PCS union announced that the "check off" system to collect subscriptions in the DWP section would come to an end in March 2015. Since this facility has already ended in the Home Office and is under threat elsewhere this decision by management comes as no surprise.

It also comes at a time when the union has decided to sell it's main financial asset in Clapham Junction and is entering renewed talks with a view to merge (or more likely be taken over) with the Unite union (see here).

PCS has been running a very panicked campaign to get members to sign up by Direct Debit, but progress has been slow and the vast majority of people have not done so yet. The end of check off in the Home Office did not see anything like the majority resign via dd before it actually ended and there are signs that the same may happen in not just the DWP, but other sections as "check off" ends.

Thing is we really do need a union at the moment but members may well be asking what PCS membership has actually achieved and they would be right to do so.

During the "merger" debate earlier this year we were assured the unions finances were secure, and the National Executive had taken into account the loss of around 10% of the membership as check-off came to end. Given that a large scale voluntary exit scheme (VES) is taking place in the DWP with 3,500 staff to go of which a large proportion would be PCS members, the problem is worse than the leadership realise.

However it has become clear, though not exactly publicised by the unions useless leaders that there is more of a financial problem than they care to admit. We know there is a £7.5 million deficit in the unions pension fund, which is why the unions staff have been offered a worse pension deal than the one PCS rejected from the government.

How long the balance from the sale of the Falcon Road site will last given there will be a need to rent new premises for the Grandees to run their delusional political campaigns from (with a reduced staff no doubt) is questionable.

Once sold. That's it. 

Given PCS has made much of it's so-called Alternative to Austerity campaign members need to ask how come the leadership says it knows how to fix the economy when it can't even balance the books of it's organisation.

The credibility gap has widened and members are gradually wising up to the real situation that exists in PCS.

The vast majority of members remain in PCS because on an individual level reps can still help on personal case work. PCS membership has been an insurance policy.

On other matters particularly the unions continual political campaigning members have disengaged as the low level of participation in internal elections and ballots clearly shows. Members are not taken in by the inflated claims of support for action the union takes.

As demands arrive on our desks from the far left political activist caste who have brought PCS to it's knees over the years they have been in control for us to sign up for direct debit they will meet a level of cynicism in many quarters.

We need a union, but is PCS the right vehicle for our needs and aspirations?

Not from where I'm sitting.

The legacy of Mark Serwotka and his Socialist Party/SWP allies is one of complete and abject failure.

Perhaps the time has come to move on.

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