Wednesday, 3 February 2016

PCS Left Unity and the phantom menace...

Having left the PCS union over a year ago my interest in their internal affairs has waned. However my attention was drawn to the fact that the union is about to have it's first internal elections for two years following their (self-inflicted) financial crisis when a friend posted a link to an article by the PCS Independent Left to Facebook which announced:

Branches are to shortly begin the nomination process for the NEC elections. The Independent left is standing in those elections. In comparison to the current leadership- the leadership that cancelled the 2015 elections but who still proclaim that democracy is in their DNA- we want a different union. Not one that self proclaims itself radical but a union that is radical.

As yet no list of candidates for this small faction of usually very shouty "comrades" but out of interest I went to the website of the main Left Unity organisation who had already published their slate but bizarrely declared:

It is likely the current NEC will be challenged by right wing candidates, who are the discredited “moderate” grouping now re-branded as 4themembers. They want us to return to a do-nothing policy of bowing down in the face of the Government’s attacks. They have campaigned in the past for NO votes in industrial action ballots and some of their candidates have argued that we can do nothing to stop the cuts and suggested partnership with a Tory government! Any gains we have won under the most difficult circumstances will be under threat if they ever returned to power.

The right wing are undemocratic and weak. They tried to prevent Mark Serwotka from taking office as General Secretary after he won his first election and spend more time attacking their own union than the employer and the government. Only a Democracy Alliance led NEC is committed to implementing Conference policy and building a campaigning, democratic union. Given the scale of attacks from the Government a strong determined leadership is crucial. It is therefore vital the Democracy Alliance is once again returned to lead the union and defend members’ interest.

Besides the fact there are clear  inaccuracies in the description of the 4themembers group there is one other little problem. 4TM does not exist anymore unless someone has suddenly revived it without any ones knowledge. 

Firstly the (now defunct) 4themembers group was set up whilst the (also defunct) National Moderate Group still existed and ran candidates against both Left Unity and the NMG. As the former National Secretary I can tell you the vast majority of 4TM supporters (including myself) were never members of the old Moderate group.

That aside, 4TM's demise was caused by a couple of factors. Firstly a large number of key activists simply reached retirement age or left the civil service and it became clear that the organisation was no longer viable when after attempting to put together a slate there simply were not enough candidates to gain even a simple majority. It was in these circumstance that I decided to resign as National Secretary.

The game was up though in deference to a small group who wished to continue that I never wrote about the groups demise. Since then a fair number of former 4TM members and supporters have left PCS to join Prospect one of the other civil service unions.

There are some good people who remain in PCS but the 4themembers group as it was is no more.

And yet the Left Unity group raise the prospect of a "phantom menace" to their continued hegemony of the failing PCS union. One PCS activist once told me if a group like 4TM didn't exist, LU would have to invent them. This prophecy has seemingly come true.

This electoral announcement says a lot about the blinkered and self serving activist caste who control Left Unity through the "Democracy" Alliance. The comrades live in a political bubble separated from reality.

And they have a problem.

The fortunes of PCS have declined as has their membership. The loss of a whole department of members, Serious Organised Crime Agency who formed their won and very successful union effected the unions finances directly. Following the end of "check off" the NCOA outnumber PCS ten to one in the.

A smaller breakaway in the HMRC has had less effect, but the RCTU has a much longer journey before it will be in a better position to challenge PCS. 

How the remaining opposition group, the PCS Independent Left will fare considering it's obvious ultra leftism is hard to tell but Left Unity/Democracy Alliance whatever label the far left led by the Socialist Party and Mark Serwotka hide behind is difficult to tell. However I wouldn't bet on their demise just yet.

The Independent left make a case for change in their latest post following the debacle that came to light last year:

Union finances should be open to all members for inspection, open to debate and discussion within the membership. The union should report back progress or the lack of progress on all negotiations. All full time officer posts should be subject to election. Our aim is that all full timers are on the average wage of the membership. Now all this stands in stark contrast to how the union is currently run. Despite the cut back in full time officer numbers they still are paid much more than the bulk of the members and certainly are not accountable to the members. We want to change that.

I remain totally unconvinced that the IL are the right ones to achieve such lofty aims but without a mainstream opposition they may well prove to be more of a challenge than Serwotka and PCS President Janice Godrich might suppose.

The problem faced by those that remain in PCS is the simple fact both these groups orientate towards the new and totally unelectable leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Janice Godrich recently posted the Independents article on the formation of a "Trade Union Momentum" on the unions Facebook page.

Meanwhile whilst the various comrades focus their attentions on various extra-curricular political activities the situation in the civil service for ordinary staff (including "their" members) steadily worsens.

1 comment:

  1. I too left PCS over a year ago. I joined the Revenue and Customs Trade Union (RCTU). Like you Howie I was in 4TM and far as my own sources show 4TM is no more. I personally tried to boost 4TM in HMRC but most in HMRC who were 4TM or part Allied to 4TM stood by the Independent label. I wish there was 4TM in HMRC like the DWP in GEC elections.

    I was never a Mod either I remember the Reamsbottom troubles back in early 2000's and the "Coup" I joined the Civil Service late 1999.

    People say the RCTU is made up of Management people. I have to laugh I am only a Mere EO and I am the Deputy President... Myself I am hardly am in league with Lin Homer soon to be Departed from HMRC. As for the future of the RCTU I know the right people are top both Margi and Lyden as GS and Dep GS and Mr Hay as President are hard working good Trade Unionists who want to make a difference for good for members in HMRC that's why I joined them.

    I know PCS thinks of you Howie as a Thorn in its side but to be honest I think it needs it people like yourself not afraid to ask and pose questions that need to be asked.

    Keep up the good work Howie.