The union is starting to wake up to the enormous challenge we face. As well as winning a Yes vote, we also have to get a 50% plus turnout. Unlike the CWU which spent over seven months preparing the membership for a ballot, we are going to do the same in about seven weeks. Already you can detect a faint odour of panic in PCS HQ as people are starting to realise that this is real.
Given that we don’t have time anymore (in essence the union wasted all the time since the consultative ballot) we have to mobilise activists in numbers as quick as possible.
A rational leadership would ask each group/national branch to put forward the names of the best organisers/reps and either seek to second them (though we probably don’t have the time to arrange that, and in any case the employer would probably say no) or ask them to take unpaid special leave (which is more likely to be agreed) with the union paying them or for them to take annual/flexi leave. This would create in a short time a pool of activists who could work full time – at least for periods – on the ballot.
Will PCS mobilise activists in this way? Probably not. Many of the best activists are not in Left Unity. Unfortunately, particularly in the DWP, LU is sectarian and would see these activists as a threat, who might infect people with ‘Independent Left (IL) ideas’ if they were given free range.
And that is the difference between the IL and Left Unity. We are not sectarian and don’t put organisational needs above those of the members. Therefore we would second LU activists to help. The key thing now is to win the ballot and then the strike action. That should be the one goal.
If you want a union leadership that puts the members first, that is not a crude calculating machine that puts factional needs always front and centre then vote IL in the NEC and DWP/HMRC GEC election.