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.