Here we publish a response to Alan Smith’s resignation letter. In politics, not always is as it seems on face value. We share comrade Smith’s criticism of the DWP GECs undemocratic attempt to sell out the Contact Centre dispute. It should be noted, however, that Alan Smith was a supporter of JaneAitchison in the apolitical dispute she had with the ruling clique.
Firstly it is good that he has finally stirred himself to criticise the GEC ruling faction. I’m not sure if this is the first time he has raised criticism of the GEC – I may be wrong and if Alan wishes to correct the record we will publish his response here in the interest of democratic debate – but to resign as soon as you have a dispute with “bullies” smacks of cowardice. We think he should have stayed and fought for his politics.
Secondly he has not gone public with his dispute. Why? If you have a difference with someone surely you would want others to know.
Thirdly there is a culture within the left of PCS that sharp, but fraternal, differences are characterised as bullying. Being on the end of criticism is not the same as being bullied. Indeed DWP management recognise this in that a new clause has been recently introduced to DWP procedures that state normal standards of behaviour may not apply in meetings between managers and Union reps where sharp disagreements can occur in personal cases.
The old adage applies that there is only one way to deal with “bullies” and that is you stand up to them, not run away.
I write in response to your letter letter of resignation from the Group Executive Committee to DWP Group President Fran Heathcote, in which you accuse Fran, John McInally and Janice Godrich of “stamping down and bullying you” and the GEC of having a culture of “viciously and personally attacking those who seek to represent the members who elected them”
I am sorry that you have resigned from the GEC. However, I believe the accusations you make are simply not true. As Vice President I sat next to Fran during the whole of the GEC. The debate was conducted in a fair, democratic and, at times, robust manner; you made your points and others made theirs. Your allegation that bullying took place is wrong and I do not accept that open and honest debate should be portrayed as such. I am also aware that conversations took place between you and some of the individuals named after the meeting, and that you were encouraged to seek resolution openly and comradely; an option I believe that is still open to you and hope you take up.
You have made a serious and public but wholly unsubstantiated allegation of bullying against three long-serving union lay activists. Alan, I do not believe it is fair or correct to make such serious allegations in this way. Within the union we should be able to both debate frankly and address any areas where fellow union representatives have concerns about issues that have been expressed in meetings. I hope that, on reflection, you will see that the statement you have made undermines the good work you have done on the GEC over the last few years. I therefore hope that you take the decision to withdraw it.
DWP Group Vice President