Whilst having no illusions in employment law, the Independent Left (IL) recognises that members expect the union to legally fight hard. Further the labour movement has fought long and hard to win certain laws. Not to enforce those laws is to undo all that hard work and in fact is to retreat, leaving the employer unchallenged. Given this, it probably won’t surprise you to find that we are critical of the current legal-advice arrangements in the union.
From what we can see, PCS has now adopted a triage system whereby Full Time Officers (FTOs) decide which cases merit going to Thompsons. This system is inherently problematic.
FTOs are not legally trained; many have less experience than the reps putting forward the cases and the whole point of the system to ‘stop’ cases being forwarded to the solicitors. Given that cost is driving the system then any notion of using the law as a weapon, to win test cases, to advance member’s interest is lost (that all costs money). Of course all this is a further example of activists and unions having to act as supplicants to their own union; having to persuade an FTO for help, from a union that the activists and members fund.
We in IL want to change all that. We recognise money is tight. This is no surprise when you pay in total over £160,000 (not including pension costs) to the two most senior union officials. Mark and Chris could ‘give’ up say £60,000 between them, still earn much more than the great bulk of us and still have a very comfortable life. That voluntary contribution would be a form of socialism in action. The £60K would fund many legal cases. Money is tight because we spend much too much of it on FTO pay. We want to change that. Money is there to fight cases, to organise etc, but it is going to the wrong causes.
We want to use the law as a weapon, to win test cases, to advance member’s interest is lost and to protect individual members. Yes, all of that costs money, and we are willing to spend it. If you are as well, then vote IL.