Motions passed at our AGM on 15 November.
working with Your Voice
This conference welcomes jointly working with Your Voice in the 2015 NEC elections. We hope that this might be the prelude to having a merger between the Independent Left and Your Voice.
Notwithstanding that, this conference believes that this election should be fought on following programme:
• Defence of our pension rights is vital. However, for the many members who are facing redundancy and therefore a premature end to their working membership of the pension scheme, defence of jobs must be an immediate and equal priority for the national union.
• Defend living standards: Real pay and the real value of pay range maxima have been slashed whilst the NEC has floundered. The current PCS leadership has had years to restore national pay and address the scourge of low pay and the lack of progression. We must fight for real increases in pay. We don’t accept the 1% pay cap and pledge to fight against it.
• Fight for national pay bargaining. It should not matter whether you work in HMRC, DfT, DWP or any other department. Your pay should not be determined by the lottery of what department you work in but should be equal across the civil service. Therefore there should be a common AA, AO, EO etc. rate across the whole civil service.
• Undertake Strategic and Organised Campaigning: The NEC’s lack of strategy has resulted in the Con-Dems refusing to respond seriously to PCS’ demands. We have to intelligently campaign at the national level. When you compare and contrast the successes won by organisations such Greenpeace (e.g. ending Lego’s deal with Shell Oil) it is clear that we can, and must, campaign in a more successful manner than we do at present.
• Build unity in action with other Unions, building rank and file links: PCS must systematically develop democratic, cross-union, town and regional committees as a way of building solidarity and putting pressure on other Union leaders. We also have to put pressure on other union leaderships to fight with us.
• Have a sober confidence in PCS’ ability to win: We reject the NEC’s defeatist view that PCS cannot win major concessions on fundamental issues such as pay. PCS must go beyond the NEC’s “strategy” of occasional one-day strikes punctuated by months of inactivity. We advocate a national voluntary levy, substantial national strike action alongside selective action, rolling strikes, overtime bans, and highly disruptive part day strikes as pioneered by DfT members.
• Punch its national industrial and political weight: The NEC has too often left representatives and members isolated, dealing with civil service wide attacks as best they can in the government’s divide and rule “bargaining units.” The union has to act as one whole.
• Devote greater union resources for, and a recruitment and organisation drive amongst private sector staff.
• Place equality at the centre of PCS’ campaigning: We will robustly use anti-discrimination legislation; challenge PRP, which discriminates by race, disability and grade; promote equal pay claims; challenge the huge bonuses of top civil servants and draw out the link between inequality in wider society and the civil service.
• Be a membership led Union: Negotiating officers should be elected and be paid wages more in line with members’ pay. Members should be thoroughly consulted on demands, strategy and tactics and provided with honest, timely, reporting of negotiations to ensure democratic decision making and genuine.
• Put the Union on a secure financial footing. This means obviously getting as many members as possible on direct debit (DD) but also seeking a deal with Labour, SNP, Greens and the Lib Dems that if they are in government, or supporting a government that they will not end check off. If a sympathetic government is elected we should use the 5 years of their term to convert ‘check off’ to DD. We should also use that time to change the cost structure of the union (e.g. full time officers on our wages, rather than the pay they are on at the moment) so that we are a low cost union.
Solidarity with the Kurdish people
1. We strongly oppose “Islamic State” and its attack on the mainly-Kurdish city of Kobani, Syria.
2. We support the Kurds of Kobani – including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Brigades – in their valiant fight; we support their right to resist attack and to ask for help in doing so.
3. We are appalled that the Turkish regime – which has a long history of oppressing the Kurdish people – is not helping the Kurds to defend themselves, and is even obstructing their fight to defend themselves by blocking supplies of arms.
4. We resolve to support and publicise demonstrations in support of the Kurds.
5. We have no confidence in the US-led coalition; its intervention is motivated by its own interests, not those of the Kurds or other oppressed peoples; we have seen, for example in Afghanistan, that this self-interested military intervention makes matters worse.
6. We demand an end to the obstruction of the supply of arms to the Kurds and the unconditional acceptance of all refugees fleeing the region. We also pledge to support organisations such as the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees and the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s organisations who are campaigning and fund raising for all peoples affected by the conflict with ISIS.
7. We are disappointed by the Stop The War coalition’s lack of support for the Kurds and failure to actively oppose the war against them. We ask the union to make representations to the Stop The War coalition on this matter, and to reconsider the union’s support for this group dependent on its response.
John Pearson Campaign
This AGM believes that:
1. The recent ruling at the Employment Tribunal (ET) that John Pearson was unfairly dismissed by his employer HP Enterprise Services vindicates his decision to seek legal redress through the tribunal process.
2. The ET verdict also further evidenced the unprincipled position taken by the NEC in refusing to support a trade union representative subject to victimisation as a result of his union activity. The stance taken represents a clear failure by the PCS leadership to recognise its fundamental duty as a trade union, to defend all representatives targeted for harassment and unfair treatment.
This AGM notes that:
1. Since the ET outcome John Pearson has written to the General Secretary to ask for PCS support with his continuing fight for reinstatement. However, in his response of 24 October the General Secretary unashamedly chose to justify the leaderships’ decision to abandon John Pearson’s case rather than to recognise the merits of the ET decision. Indeed, the General Secretary did not seek to rectify the errors of the NEC by changing the disgraceful position it has held to date but instead asserted a number of unsubstantiated claims.
2. The indication is that there has been no shift in the NEC’s positioning, this is disappointing given that the General Secretary will submit a report to the National Disputes Committee in consideration of this case. As a result this highlights the importance for IL in escalating our activity to support John Pearson’s Campaign;
This AGM agrees that the IL should:
• Exert pressure on the NEC to recognise the merits of the ET verdict and to give its maximum support towards John Pearson’s on-going fight for reinstatement –including a commitment towards recompensing his legal costs and providing the necessary resource to support his continuing action.
• Raise the profile of the John Pearson Campaign for reinstatement with PCS branches and the wider membership e.g. promoting support for signing the open letter ‘Redress for John Pearson and support for employment tribunals’.
• Campaign more broadly with activists to force the NEC to accept the principle of defending all union representatives targeted for victimisation and to be more robust in its support for victimised union representatives pursuing ET’s and legal action.
This AGM notes the comprehensive findings of Professors Wilson and Pickett in their book The Spirit Level which clearly demonstrates that the most unequal societies, in terms of wealth, have the greatest social ills: teenage pregnancy; drug addiction; levels of mistrust; suicide rates and mental illness to name a few.
With this in mind, we instruct the incoming IL steering committee to draft a motion to PCS conference calling for a Union policy of maximum pay, ie that the highest paid person in a bargaining unit should not receive more than a multiple of the lowest paid person, full time equivalent, that multiple to be determined by the steering committee
Proposed by London comrades
full time officer pay
This AGM reiterates its policy that the pay of full time officers should be much more significantly related to the average pay of civil servants and instructs the steering committee to:
• draw up a model motion for PCS conference and for campaigning within the Union
• approach other socialist groups seeking their support
The steering committee are to ensure that the motion deals with the predictable objections such as the market rate.
Casualisation of the Civil Service
Civil Service workplaces are becoming increasingly casualised. PCS has a responsibility to its members to highlight the negative impacts on terms and conditions caused by this trend. With a great many recent attacks on Civil Service/public sector workers, PCS has been focussing its campaigning on other issues, however this matter now deserves greater prominence.
As an example, the vast majority of new workers in DWP are employed on either Fixed Term Appointment (FTA) contracts or as apprentices, and the Department recently announced that two sites were to recruit agency workers. This is in addition to DWP exploitation of benefit claimants through their own participation as an ‘employer’ in the unpaid Work Experience scheme. Elsewhere in the Civil Service, notably the Home Office, agency staff have been relied upon for a number of years
The PCS Independent Left Steering Committee shall organise a motion, to be circulated in branches where IL has members and sympathisers, for submission branch AGMs. The motion will demand that PCS collect and publicise data to highlight the extent of the problem in the areas it represents and develop strategies to oppose casualisation. This campaign should be closely linked with the union’s anti-privatisation work and organising in the Commercial Sector.
Crisis Welfare Support
Current provision for crisis welfare support is chaotic and inadequate; while this issue is not represented in the media and ignored by politicians, the labour movement must argue for improvements.
The current provision is a mix of Local Assistance Loans, Local Assistance Grants, JSA/ESA Hardship payments and Short Term Benefit Advances backed up by the sporadic presence of food banks. These measures assist benefit claimants but strict conditions preclude their use in many scenarios.
Both Local Assistance Loans and Local Assistance Grants (designed to replace Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants) are the responsibility of local authorities and therefore access and rules vary by location and depend on the individual council’s priorities.
The PCS Independent Left Steering Committee shall organise a motion, to be circulated in branches where IL has members and sympathisers, for submission to branch AGMs. The motion will demand that PCS publicly advocate and politically campaign for a national comprehensive system of financial support for those in crisis, to be administered by the DWP. The motion should also give consideration to the potential problems caused by debt arising from such a system.