Whilst proclaiming themselves the most democratic leadership in the trade union movement. – whilst denying us the vote (for up to 12 months), our leaders are certainly not the most transparent -we don’t know the true financial position of the union.
At 2014 national conference we were told that everything was financially OK. Since then we have had to sell off our HQ (our major capital asset) and apparently our financial situation is now so pressing that we cannot afford the distraction of a membership vote in case activists and full time officers take their eye off the DD ball.
But how pressing are our finances? Nobody but the inner circle know.
In the past, the union movement had a general demand that when a company or organisation claimed to be in financial difficulty and therefore had to make cuts or claimed that it could not afford pay increases we would demand that they ‘open the books’; that is the union and members be allowed to forensically examine all the organisation’s accounts to determine independently what its expenditures and incomes were; to see whether they really couldn’t afford pay increases; to see whether money could be saved elsewhere to keep up employment.
Unfortunately the same demand now has to be put to the current PCS leadership; open the books; let’s see how our money is being spent. If the books where open we could see for ourselves the true cost of full time officials, in particular that of the General and Assistant Secretaries, the travel and subsistence claimed by our leadership etc.
That said, like companies and organisations in the past, the current leadership will never open the books. If and when there are elections and if we have a decisive say on the NEC then we will open the books for all to see where our money is going.
For us Union democracy is more than elections – though in PCS at present we cannot even have that. Union democracy is being truly accountable for actions and also allowing members all the relevant information so that they, activists and branches can make up their minds as to what is happening and what could happen. It is a form of trade unionism that much of the leadership, given their formal political beliefs, should be in favour of, but in reality are not.
Open the books!