The PCS Independent Left have long argued that the union should build a war-chest in order to better prepare us for the sort of industrial action needed to win disputes, including funding strike pay in some circumstances. We have consistently put forward motions at conference calling for a membership levy to start raising the cash.
The latest attempt at this year’s conference was unfortunately defeated. A key factor in this was the attitude of PCS leadership who opposed it as a concept. We will leave it to the reader to decide whether or not this was because they simply aren’t prepared to launch the sort of action programme to win, nationally, at least.
Unite, meanwhile, has started up just the sort of war chest we’ve been arguing for. The union have put £25 million in for starters. This is being funded by ringfencing an amount in membership subscriptions – something also put forward in motions by Independent Left supporters previously.
Understandably, Unite’s leaders are using this as a sabre to rattle in the face of the government and employers. But now it’s for workplace militants and the rank and file to grab the sabre!
Unite doesn’t measure up to PCS in the left wing, democratic, fighting union stakes – if you buy into the rhetoric – and is affiliated to Labour. However, if this idea is good enough for Unite, then it should surely be good enough for PCS?