PCS’s full-time apparatus is far removed from its lay membership. This is not a fault of individuals amongst the union staff but a structural issue due to the way that the union is set up. As an organisation which believes that ours should be a lay-led union, with members firmly in the driving seat, we propose to address this as follows:
1.1 Workers’ Representatives on a Worker’s Wage
The material interests of workers and the employer are different, and fundamentally opposed. Whilst all who work for the union should earn a wage they can live on, they should not be on amounts which put them closer to the bosses they negotiate with than to the workers they represent.
Any IL candidates elected to full time positions will take a wage tied to the average wage of PCS members, and will return the rest of their salary to the union’s Fighting Fund.
1.2 Fostering accountability
Union members should be able to elect all of those who negotiate on their behalf, including full time as well as lay officials. Where those officials are deemed to not be carrying out the mandate they were given, members should have the right to recall them.
We argue for rule changes that will extend the election of full time officials beyond the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary, introduce a mechanism to recall any elected full time officers, and to create a safeguard so that representational powers and duties of the General Secretary, if delegated, can only be handed down to elected officers.
1.3 Putting lay reps in charge of staff deployment
Currently, the General Secretary has control over the deployment of PCS staff, which in turn is delegated within the management hierarchy. We must remove this control and puts it in the hands of the National Executive Committee. This will allow lay reps elected by members to steer how the union’s resources are used.
1.4 Making PCS structures and processes accessible and transparent
Many of the union’s internal processes are shrouded in unnecessary secrecy and/or complicated by excessive bureaucracy. We need a reform of processes so that they are transparent, so that any PCS member can easily find the process and appropriate forms on the union’s website, and so that whilst full time officials support the process they cannot act as a barrier or a hindrance to them proceeding in a timely fashion, in accordance with the will of members.
1.5 Rank and file control of industrial action
In order to undertake a ballot for industrial action, branches have to seek permission from the union’s National Disputes Committee (NDC). The process also requires sign off by an unelected National Officer before being considered by the NDC.
We argue for reforms whereby industrial action ballots can be agreed and authorised by lay members at the appropriate level (e.g. the local branch) so that members wanting to take action over an issue they care about cannot be blocked by the bureaucracy of the union.
1.6 Devolved delegate conferences
Conference is the centrepiece of the union’s democracy, where all branches can send delegates to debate and vote on policy. However, where many of the political decisions that affect our members in the different nations of the UK are devolved, there is no such devolution in PCS policy making. The union must establish devolved conferences that can properly consider and set policy on such matters.