Full Time Officers: What sort of union do we want?

Although PCS is seen by many as one of the most ‘left wing’ unions in Britain, we still pay our senior officials considerably more than the average wages of our members. Thus Mark Serwotka earns over 400% more than the bulk of the members. Can this be right? The PCS leadership would once have said “No!” But not since their election some ten years ago!

A policy long held by the left in PCS and predecessor unions – that full time officers should be elected and paid wages linked to that of members – has seemingly been abandoned. There are likely to be motions to conference this year from supporters of the current ‘left’ leadership pushing for the possible election of some senior full time officer posts. This could be seen as a move in the right direction. Or it could be seen as a way of extending the possibility of well-paid sinecures for certain individuals or groups within the union.

Whatever. Good intentions are not enough. The road to hell is paved with them.

We must ask ourselves the question – what sort of union do we want? The answer for us is clear; a trade union championing membership interests, run by members, and employing elected officials who are in touch with members and who are not lifted to a lifestyle out of kilter with a large part of the membership by the fact of trade union employment.

This policy is not an optional extra for us and “voluntary donations” are not a substitute – the union needs a wage policy reflecting its philosophy, not a guilt trip on individuals’ sense of conscience (and if you look at the annual accounts you will see that virtually nothing is donated back by the most senior officials despite their claim to socialist credentials).

PCS Independent Left believe that every step that increases membership control over the union must be fought for. So we must continue to insist that full time officers should be elected by the members and paid a wage that is more in line with that received by members if we wish to increase rank and file control of our union. There will be motions to this effect being debated at AGMs. PCS Independent Left supporters are making sure of that. Please support these motions and fight for this policy to be implemented.

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