We want different things

The nominations are in and so we wait for the voting to begin.

In the elections members are faced with two fundamentally different visions as to what a union should be. The differences are not that of tactical nuances, as to what we should to do on this or that issue, but concern different conceptions of a union.

‘Left’ Unity is content for PCS to remain a typical TUC union. So we have exceptionally well paid senior full time officers (FTOs) and very well paid other FTOs; no elections of full time officers beyond those required by law; a top down organisation where branches and activists have to ‘go’ to FTOs to get things; where most conference motions passed remain unactioned and the members are there to do the things that the leadership wants.

In contrast we want all full time officers on wages that are the same of those they serve; we want all FTOs who represent members to be elected; for PCS to be really a membership lead union; for the union to back members and activists who want to fight, rather than act as a brake, for the union to be open so members are told in detail what the union is doing (seeing the General Secretary in a video is no substitute to seeing the letters exchanged with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury on things like pay and the compensation scheme); for lay officials to lead all negotiations and for democracy to be more than just annual elections and conferences.

That is the choice; more of the same or a start towards a radical change (us being elected won’t be enough). If you are for the latter then vote for us, and why not join us?

Our slate for the PCS DWP Group elections

Please nominate the following candidates at the 2018 AGM for a better PCS DWP Group. Vote IL!


Bev Laidlaw

Vice President

Tom Bishell

Leon Searle


Chris Marks


Jason Lansbury

Journal editor

Nick Diamantis

Assistant Secretaries

Declan Power

Charlie McDonald

George Thompson


Tom Bishell

Nick Diamantis

Bev Laidlaw

Jason Lansbury

Chris Marks

Charlie McDonald

Robin Nicholl

Jenny Pollard

Declan Power

Leon Searle


Putting pressure on Labour

Whilst wanting a Labour Government, the majority in IL is clear that the Labour Party has to be pushed on pay.

While Labour is unequivocally committed to scrapping the Conservatives pay cap – a development we welcome – it has not committed itself to real term pay rises or to unrestricted national collective bargaining with public sector unions.

Instead Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, told UNISON Conference on 26 April 2017: that “a Labour government will scrap the pay cap, put pay decisions back into the hands of the independent pay review body and give our NHS workers the pay they deserve”;

Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister Dawn Butler, appearing on Sky News’ “Sunday with Niall Paterson” programme on 17 September 2017, stated that Labour only planned to remove the cap but not to offer a real-terms pay increase, saying, “we are not talking about an above-inflation pay rise”  and adding, “when we’ve got the books in front of us we will then be able to decipher what else we’d be able to deliver for public sector workers but we need to see the figures and the books but at the moment we’re not in government, we’re the government-in-waiting.”

While Jeremy Corbyn has called for a return to national pay bargaining, common national pay terms cannot be achieved with inflation level pay awards only.

The IL believes that as part of the political strategy for our national pay campaign, the NEC must seek immediate talks with the Labour Leadership to develop civil service pay policies and principles that contrast openly and vividly with the pay slashing, divide and rule policies of the current government and ensures vocal Labour support for PCS throughout our campaign and dispute.

The following principles should form the basis of PCS’ talks with the Labour leadership, and with any future Labour Government to the extent that these principles are not agreed before then:

  • The restoration of national pay terms as part of an agreement to restore national pay bargaining.
  • This agreement to set contractually binding step

For a national pay fight

In the 2017 indicative pay ballot, 48% of PCS members voted and of those, 98.9%  believed the pay cap should be scrapped and 79.2% indicated a willingness to take part in industrial action.

Therefore the union has a clear mandate for a pay strike. That said we soberly note that whilst this vote took place in a much changed and more favourable political environment and even using voting methods not allowed under strike ballot law, we still got less than a 50% turnout.

The IL is therefore arguing that PCS:

  • Needs to carefully prepare the industrial action pay ballot and avoid calling a ballot with little notice.
  • Identify and target areas where inexperienced or unconfident or too few representatives means that the Union’s campaign messages will not reach members.
  • Provide plentiful, varied and creative campaign material and to do so in good time well before, as well as during the legal ballot.
  • Ensure that an expertly prepared social media campaign is put in place and starts well before the ballot begins.
  • Ensure that membership meetings take place and that members’ voices are heard well before a ballot notice is issued.
  • Publish pay data showing members the great difference in pay between staff working in the same grade across the civil service. Equal pay has to be a key demand in any pay campaign.
  • Develop and explain a meaningful and convincing independent PCS industrial action strategy to members.
  • Be clear to members and employer that action will not stayed for the mere offer of talks.
  • Work and campaign with, and strike alongside, other Unions wherever and whenever possible. This should not be in such a manner that the interests of PCS members and the success of our campaign becomes dependent on the leaderships of other unions, so that our campaign can be collapsed by them at any time.
  • Ensure that all talks and negotiations, including all correspondence with the employer, are reported in a timely manner to members.
  • Boost the Fighting Fund urgently and massively.
  • Ensure that rank and file activist committees are set up everywhere, meet at times that activists without large amounts of facility time can actually make, and develop accountability to the activists and branches, calling national meetings throughout the dispute.
  • Work with activists, wider society campaign groups, other unions and the Labour Party to develop a vigorous political campaign.

For a Labour government

labour_generic_wloq9g_fhy34b_f3iqhl_0_sy6g1jMay’s government is weak and unstable, riven with divisions over Brexit.  Given this, there is a possibility that the government will fall and there will be a general election before the end of the parliamentary term. 
The majority in IL agree that a Corbyn-led Labour government would be the best outcome in any general election, not only for our members but for millions of working class people. 
Given this we believe that PCS’ (non-) intervention in the last general election was wrong. 
We think that union policy should be to encourage PCS members to join Labour, to campaign and canvass for Labour and to volunteer to help get the vote out on Election Day. 
IL doesn’t think that the union’s overt neutrality makes any sense when a Tory victory in any future election would mean many more and sustained attacks on the union (and the wider union movement) and on our members.
In contrast the Labour Party has openly stated that it wants to work with us, that it wants to restore national pay and that it will repeal the last anti-union Act (though we think it must scrap all the anti-union laws).
Wanting Labour to win is not the same as saying we give them a blank cheque, that we will agree with whatever they do and that there will not be disputes between us and a Labour government. We will be a critical friend. That said a Labour government is so obviously better for us that we would be fools not to want it.
If you want a Labour government and for the union to play its part in getting Labour elected, then in the NEC elections vote for us. We are the only people standing in the NEC election who want the union to argue for a Labour victory in the next General election.   PCS cannot be, and should not be neutral as to what government we want. Vote Labour, Vote IL.


If it is a principle then it should be implemented

PCS Independent Left (IL) does agree there are some very hard working and effective Full Time Officers (FTOs) of the union, particularly those recruited from PCS’ activist cadre.  That said we have some FTOs who are not hardworking or effective.Now in our union FTOs are paid between £41,355 and £93,836 pa, paid through your subs. This is well in excess of what the vast bulk of us earn.

IL is the only organisation in a union, stuffed full of self proclaimed leftists and left groups, that actually fights for the principle of a workers’ representative being on workers’ wage.

The leading left group in the union, the Socialist Party, who make up the core of Left Unity, at least in terms of its politics, have a formal position of workers’ representatives being on workers’ wages. In other unions they actually fight elections under this banner. In our union where they could actually implement that principle, they refuse to do so.

That is why in previous national conferences you get SP comrades arguing against PCS workers’ representatives being on a worker’s wages. The world turned up downside – but not in a good way.

It is not hard to fathom why they argue as they do though. In our union, many of them hope to be FTOs – indeed many of them have become FTOs. They have no intention therefore of earning less than they are ‘entitled’ to.

As a famous materialist philosopher argued, it is not the consciousness of people that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” In this instances, SP and LU comrades being well off and materially comfortable is driving their consciousness, and leading them to put aside any socialist consciousness they have.

The principle of workers’ representatives being on workers’ wages is part of the radical change we want to see in the union. If you want the same, then please vote for us.