Solidarity with the rail strikes

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The Railworkers’ strike this week is an opportunity to start a massive offensive against the Tories. Members of the RMT Union working for Network Rail and 13 train operating companies will be out this Tuesday 21 June, this Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June fighting for an above inflation pay rise. On Tuesday they will be joined by 11,000 London Underground workers in the RMT and Unite fighting 600 job cuts.

Train cleaners working for outsourcing company Churchill on GTR, Network Rail, HS1 and South East Trains are already on strike for £15 an hour, sick pay and free travel. 

We should support all of these workers by going to their pickets line with PCS flags, banners and solidarity snacks. This will raise their confidence that they have support especially if they’re getting grief from the media. But it also means we can learn from their experience of organising at work and getting the vote out across different rail companies and sections. These lessons will help us stop office closures and help win our ballot in September on pay, pensions and the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

In Manchester a group of us will be visiting the pickets at Piccadilly Station on Tuesday morning from 7.30am. We’re Meeting by the Bulls Head pub on the big crossroads with Fairfield St close to the short term parking behind the station. I encourage everyone to organise delegations to visit the picket lines.

The cost of living crisis is an emergency we can fight learning from Railworkers experiences. They are leading the fight and we must do everything we can to support them from picket line visits, office collections and messages of support.

If the Railworkers win, it will make it more likely that we will win and that will be a victory for our whole class.

Sarah Ensor


ADC 2022 – the fight is on

PCS national conference 2022 met in person last week, the first time since the Covid pandemic began, with the opportunity for delegates to join virtually. It was an important event, coming in the midst of a cost of living crisis and the threat to 91,000 civil service jobs.

Conference opened on Tuesday with a session on the crucial issue of the national campaign. Delegates agreed overwhelmingly to move to a Statutory Ballot on pay, pensions and the CSCS in September, with the idea of moving immediately to a ballot in July being heavily defeated. Delegates discussed the crucial need to prepare for the ballot in every office, branch and group.

A very fraternal discussion followed where we discussed building solidarity with Ukrainian trade unions, while recognising that the Ukrainian government is trying to push through anti union measures, and that both our own and US governments have their own agenda in supporting the resistance to Putin’s occupation.

Guest speaker Dame Shami Chakrabarti discussed the government’s racist policies and congratulated PCS for our role in stopping the plan to push refugees back in the English Channel.

Before the opening session on Wednesday delegates gathered with Clare Moseley from Care4Calais and Dame Chakrabarti to show our solidarity with refugees and opposition to the horrendous plan to offshore refugees in Rwanda. During conference motions were passed opposing the Nationality and Borders bill, and opposing the Rwanda plan.

The continued effect of Covid on our workplaces was debated and the government’s lack of interest in our safety condemned.

Equalities motions passed included a motion discussing the disproportionate effect of Covid on oppressed communities and opposition to government plans to allow conversion therapy to continue for the Trans community.

Conference discussed building on the success of the COP26 demonstrations and deepening the campaign into our workplaces.

We agreed to continue to develop our network of MPs in Parliament, while recognising that the Labour Party has retreated from promoting workers rights since the election of Keir Starmer as leader.

 There were a number of important fringe meetings to discuss our campaigning and the need to engage all members, with the biggest by far being the meeting with Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Grady, who shared vital tips with PCS delegates about how to prepare for and win a statutory ballot.    

The Left Unity rally on Wednesday night was the largest for some years. There was a real buzz and a feeling of enthusiasm throughout, expressing the determination and confidence felt by delegates in general, and by Left Unity members in particular. It was great to welcome a striker from the strike at St James Tavern in Brighton, and Laura Pidcock from the People’s Assembly. Those who attended went away enthused about the need to build Left Unity and PCS, and the potential to join up our struggles and build a massive campaign of opposition against the tory attacks that our members face.

On the final morning we received an organising report which came back to the urgent need to develop organising in our branches and offices. One of the key events which ran through the conference was the TUC cost of living demonstration on June 18th, and the opportunity it presents to organise our members.

We left conference determined to build PCS and develop the strength and confidence of our members and our class.

NEC elections – Democracy Alliance re-elected

Just a short message to thank everyone who voted to re-elect a strong Democracy Alliance leadership to lead PCS in what we know will be a tough period ahead. Just two of our candidates narrowly missed out, which is a resounding result. Left Unity thanks every single member who voted, campaigned and made that possible. Congratulations to all those elected onto the NEC and commiserations to the two comrades who haven’t made it this time. We know they will both be back.

The message in the last few days, that the government intends to cut 91,000 civil service jobs, following plans to close DWP offices and decimate services to the public shows why strong leadership is so important right now.

The incoming NEC will need to hit the ground running and make sure we focus on engaging reps and members about the activity necessary in the period ahead to oppose the threats of this rotten government to members’ jobs and to public services. So whether that’s building support for the mass demonstration on 18th June, working with other unions to build alliances or recruiting to PCS, there is much work to do together to unite members in the biggest campaign possible.

Group elections are also very important. A strong, united leadership is just as important at group level. DWP members have until 12 noon on Tuesday May 17th to dig out the email and cast their vote, and for HMRC members, the relaunch of the ballot starts on Wednesday 18th May. In both elections, you are asked to support all Left Unity candidates, please get in touch if you need help with this or with locating the email.

Block vote elections are being held ahead of Annual Delegate Conference this year, and an email about this has been sent by Civica, just marked PCS, to every branch secretary. These elections close on Thursday 19th May, please follow the recommendation which was sent last week to all Left Unity members.

We hope to see many of you in Brighton next week at Annual Delegate Conference. Look out for our rally, which will take place on Wednesday 25th May.

Again, thank you to all those who voted for Democracy Alliance candidates, we will work tirelessly to repay your faith.

Let’s make the TUC demo on June 18th massive

The cost of living crisis is crippling working class people.

Inflation has hit 7%, with estimates that it could hit double figures this year. Utility costs have gone through the roof, and are estimated to rise sharply again in October. Food bank usage spirals up.

Meanwhile Tory MPs talk about how we can live on 30p per day and should learn how to shop for value goods. It is insulting beyond belief.

The TUC has called a demonstration, ‘We demand better‘ on June 18th in response. We need to take it seriously. As we move towards a statutory pay and pensions ballot, and while the government are threatening to sack 1 in 5 civil servants, June 18th will be an important milestone for the trade union movement.

Every PCS branch needs to be organising to get a delegations on the demonstration. Workplace reps should be organising to bring the members along. Every city and town will have transport going to the demonstration and the PCS is committed to funding coaches. Every member who joins the demonstration will go home more confident and determined to fight.

Left Unity members, from the NEC through to reps in offices will be throwing ourselves into organising people to join the demonstration. We have five weeks to build the demonstration, let’s make sure we are proud of the PCS turnout.

Report from STUC Conference

The STUC presents a good opportunity for activists to build links with other like-minded trade unionists about joint campaigning on issues like Pay and Pensions covered by the National Campaign. This years STUC took place 25 – 27 April at Aberdeen’s Music Hall with a delegation well represented with Left Unity members.

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