Justice after 48 years for the Shrewsbury 24

After 48 years the Shrewsbury pickets who had been accused of unlawful assembly and conspiracy to intimidate have finally seen justice when their prosecutions were thrown out by the high court.

This is a huge victory for our entire movement and should be celebrated as such.

We in the PCS were proud to give our full support and solidarity to the campaign. Ricky Tomlinson addressed PCS Left Unity conference and DWP Group Conference during the campaign, and at both meetings members expressed full solidarity.

At a time when it is again under threat we must always defend workers’ rights to picket and protest.

Fran Heathcote

For a Neurodivergent voice in our unions

Between Monday 15th and Sunday 21st March, it is Neurodiversity Week. Neurodiversity includes a number of conditions such as Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Many of these conditions were never recognised until long after the Disability Discrimination Act became law. There were no Reasonable Adjustments at work to accommodate these conditions. However, Reasonable Adjustments are not enough to ensure the well being of Neurodivergent employees. It is important that society has a more basic understanding of such needs.

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Resist the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

On 16th March the Conservative Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its second reading, bringing closer one of the biggest attacks on democracy, and under represented communities, in the UK in recent memory.

If passed into law, the Bill will immediately place a target on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities with the police able to seize individuals property and vehicles, while also levying fines and the potential threat of prison.

In addition the Bill also places severe restrictions on our human right to protest, notably by enhancing the ability of police to place restrictions on public processions while at the same time leaving what such restrictions may be entirely open.

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One year on, organising in the pandemic

On Tuesday 17th March 2020 Birmingham ISS cleaners were due to strike and we had planned a strike rally with Fran Heathcote, the Midlands TUC secretary, a councillor and a Bootle striker. We also had a meeting planned for the evening. We had been organising for the events and were looking forward to them, but we were aware that the pandemic was looming.

Fran rang me the Friday before the event to tell me that she would not be able to come as the union had decided to suspend all travel and all meetings in response to the growing threat of Coronavirus.

That was a year ago.

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Thank you for your support and nominations

The branch nomination process for the national and group elections closed last week and the nomination list for the NEC has now been published.

Left Unity would like to thank all those branches that supported and nominated the Democracy Alliance candidates. In a year like no other, the number of nominations our candidates received compares well next to our political opponents and when viewed against the last couple of years. This shows the majority of branches still recognise the important work done by the Left Unity leadership of our union.

Fran Heathcote received 70 branch nominations for President, over half the total nominations, and this pattern was repeated across the NEC nominations.

There is still much work to do, of course, and no one should be complacent going into the elections themselves. PCS Left Unity have led from the front during a challenging twelve months and the work our activists have done at all levels of the union is recognised in the published list of nominations.

Thank you once again, but please do all you can to ensure the Democracy Alliance slate receives that same level of support when the elections get under way next month.

DVLA votes to strike over safety

As comrades may now know our members in DVLA have voted for strike action with 71.6% voting in favour, on a 50.3% turnout.

You may think that is a close result regarding the threshold we have to reach, and it was, but the result is nothing short of incredible and an absolute credit to the way PCS have worked at every level.

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Happy Mothers Day – and lets Reclaim These Streets

As we woke this morning to wish our mums a happy and restful day, my mind could not, and has not moved away from the scenes last night on Clapham Common as women stood, with candles lit, at a vigil for a murdered sister, and became embroiled in a horrendous fracas, manhandled and verbally abused by men.

Across the country the call to Reclaim These Streets saw communities holding a candle-lit vigil on the doorstep. In Clapham, members of the local community each attended the place where Sarah Everard was last seen, to pay respects and raise awareness of the plight of women. That scene on the Common was one of quiet sadness and despair, women holding, along with candles, banners to protest the gender-based violence that is still on the increase, and placards calling for safety for women. Yet that quiet reflection was invaded. Those women, many already traumatised from their own experiences of physical assault, sexual assault, and rape, mums and mums-to-be, nans and grandmothers watched as the enforcement service descended on their grief; the police showing a complete lack of sensitivity for a community struggling with loss, arrested grieving women, pinning some to the floor, and handed out extortionate fines under the guise of Covid-19 legislation. Those attending wore masks, and were socially distanced, at least until the state troopers led the event into chaos.

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In defence of peaceful protest

On Mother’s day, following shortly after International Women’s Day, PCS sends solidarity to women and girls all across the world. 

We send condolences to the friends and family of Sarah Everard at this time of their loss, and solidarity to all women who have been affected by the events of this weekend. 

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She was just walking home

On Monday we celebrated International Women’s day and this year’s theme was Choose to Challenge. We tweeted and shared our favourite images of women empowering other women, quotes, art work, flags and hash tags. Trolls trotted out the same tired jokes about flags not being ironed, and women in the kitchen.

The next day a police officer was arrested in connection with the investigation to find missing woman Sarah Everard. Sarah disappeared on her way home from a friend’s house last week. She’d left her friend’s around 9pm, she had changed into trainers and took a well-lit route for the 50 minute walk. She never made it home, and the missing person search became a murder investigation.

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Where is the “Road Map” going?

The governments “road map” provides four steps towards full re-opening of society by 21 June 2021. After all this time who wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to once again meet up with friends and family, go the pub, and take a holiday or attend sporting events, theatres and concerts. Optimism is fuelled by the progress being made on the vaccination programme which has now seen around 20 million people in the UK receive their first jab, over one-third of the adult population. Understandably many workers will give a cautious welcome to the proposals but are they cause for celebration?

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