Only the PCS leadership could begin its report of the NEC’s decisions to suspend Group and National elections for a year and sell of PCS HQ to fund PCS’ running costs with the statement, “Bold financial decisions are being taken by the NEC to ensure the union’s stability.”
Let us briefly deal with the sale of HQ. An organisation that flogs its capital assets in order to fund its running costs (ensuring that the capital will either run out or be much diminished) is not taking a “bold financial decision”, but is either making an utterly reckless one or one forced upon it and either way it would appear to be heading for termination.
Typically, the leadership tell us sweet damn all about the financial position in relation to the sale of HQ. Instead we are simply told “The favourable terms being discussed would achieve a very substantial sum together with a rent-free period of continuing occupation. This would provide us with a platform in the longer term on which we will go forward to build the union and grow into new areas.”
How a temporary period of rent free accommodation (of unstated duration) combined with spending our capital on running costs would “provide a platform in the longer term is left unexplained. If it can indeed do that then the leadership should explain how – it does not. Nor of course now does it have to explain itself to the membership in an election. That was of course another bold decision.
As we understand matters, the sale of the Clapham building will aid PCS in paying salaries and meeting its pension obligations. Yet the PCS leadership has spent a small fortune over its 11 years of union control in paying off full time officers whilst recruiting replacement staff more amenable to itself (and in large part those it is politically close to). It is a spendthrift policy that sees the Union paying out pensions to those it has early retired and lump sums to others whilst adding to the pay bill by recruiting comrades from the Socialist Party.
Worse, in the manner of the most incompetent departmental managers, PCS has recruited new staff on the same pay structure that bears no resemblance to the incomes of most PCS members and has thereby also built up a substantial and additional pensions commitment. This was crass prior to the Tories entering government but was frankly stupid after they were there as PCS, a small trade union, was bound to shed members under the impact of cuts.
PCS is supposedly the most left wing union in the country yet it pays its officers salaries of up to £92,000 a year and with commensurate pensions! If the NEC had not year after year resisted IL arguments for a rational PCS pay structure that linked full time officer pay more closely to that of the members then the Union would be on a much sounder financial footing. Becoming a PCS Full Time Officer should be a labour movement vocation not a smart move to get far away from civil service salaries and move to a lifestyle way beyond that of our members.
Let members have a vote!!