PCS national conference 2015: The type of Union we need

Today we will debate, amongst other things, the thorny issue of Full Time Officer pay. The starting pay for Full Time Officials according to the 2015 financial report is £40,539. We have two officials, the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary in a payband where the max is £92,500. Given the length of time both incumbents have served it is more than likely that they are both receiving this.

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. It cannot be right that the General Secretary earns four times that of the average member in a union that professes to be the most left wing in the British labour movement.

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). Besides, asking individuals to donate back part of their wages to PCS is hardly tax efficient.

PCS Independent Left believes 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 no more than the average skilled worker’s wage and certainly more in line with that received by members if we wish to increase rank and file control of our union.

The NEC opposed the last attempt at conference by IL supporters to push the union into adopting a policy long held by our ‘left’ leadership. Anyone who saw the national election broadcast for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition would have seen Dave Nellist proudly proclaim that their candidates would, if elected, only take a workers wage. It will be very interesting to see what the response will be from them this year, given the financial crisis we find ourselves in. Of course there is always the alliance with the PCS Democrats as a useful fig leaf if it’s needed! However, much is made of the fact that the ‘left’ lead the union and they have done so now for over 12 years. It is time that words are turned into deeds. Support motion A39!

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