PCS Independent Left plans way forward: Report back from AGM

PCS Independent Left is a democratic organisation and holds two national meetings a year, which includes our AGM which took place earlier this month. Decisions were taken at the meeting as to our programme, which will inform our positions going into PCS AGM season and then at Group and Annual Delegate Conferences; as well as our slates for NEC and Group elections 2014/15.

Comrades will be providing reports back on the decisions taken over the coming weeks. In the meantime, and in order to answer questions and rumours around the union here is the motion passed at our meeting in August regarding our ‘relationship’ with PCS ‘Left Unity’:

This meeting notes the approach from Left Unity (LU) for the Independent Left (IL) to join the LU;

This meeting believes that the main motivation behind this approach is the relatively poor showing, particularly for President, of LU candidates during the last NEC elections and the increasing grip of our ideas -such as a levy, using selective action in addition to mass action – on activists (e.g. this year’s HMRC Group conference voted in favour of a levy and selective action).

This meeting also notes that the political and industrial differences that motivated the split from LU in the first place still exist. This meeting notes that these differences were not in doubt at the time of the split. The LU, and more particularly the Socialist Party (SP), has effectively run the union for a decade yet despite this, the union is not radically different from mainstream unions such as Unite.

  • There exists a hierarchy of well paid full time officers who earn more than the great bulk of the members; the senior officers earn even more and their life styles are even more distant from that of the members.
  • Apart from where required by law, full time officials are not elected.
  • The culture of spin still prevails as opposed to the provision of timely information that enables rank and file members to properly debate and run PCS.
  • Whilst the annual conference is not openly ignored, the many motions passed are never actioned.
  • Through LU’s control of the standing orders committee, the agenda of conference is fixed and (usually) bogus NEC emergency motions, coupled with ridiculous fellings, allow the NEC to dominate the conference.
  • Increasingly, the LU leadership is more concerned by TUC general council manoeuvres rather than winning over the rank and file of other unions.
  • As membership reduces and income falls, the union looks to the classic get out of a merger rather than radically transforming itself.
  • There has not been a substantive campaign for a return to national pay.
  • Despite PCS being supposedly a self avowed political union, the union has never run an effective national political campaign; it has not supported independent candidates nor backed stalwarts such as John McDonnell in general elections. Make your vote count is not political campaigning.
  • Despite abundant evidence showing that the lower grades, ethnic minorities, staff with disabilities etc do worse out of performance related pay systems, are dis-proportionately disciplined and dismissed the union has never run a national campaign around these facts or equality for that matter.
  • Despite years of defeat, the union still employs the same strike tactics, still treats the membership as a toy army, still spins defeats and setbacks and is desperate for unprincipled and unserious alliances with other unions.

Therefore, this meeting, taking all of the above together, still believes that currently the differences between our vision of what the union should be and what the union is, as run by LU, are significant and believes that genuine unity should be on the basis of overcoming these programmatic differences.  Therefore this meeting agrees that we should continue to talk to LU to seek agreement on changes that could be jointly fought for and won at PCS ADC 2014 with a further IL review of our constitutional relationship thereafter.’

Comment: It is notable that the NEC has recently made the decision to implement a national levy to support targeted strike action. This is very welcome. However, to begin with it will take a hell of a lot of work from activists on the ground, if our national leadership is indeed serious about it. PCS IL members will of course be amongst those doing the work required. The Left Unity led NEC- and the Socialist Party in particular- have made things more difficult for all of us by obstructing this concept for so long and as a result have made the task more difficult. Now that they have signalled their ‘approval’ for it there must be every effort to make the concept a reality if we are to stand a better chance of taking on the employer and winning.

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