Austin Harney


I work in the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) that looks after the money of mentally incapacitated clients, within the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). I am, proudly, Branch Organiser of the MoJ Associated Offices Branch of which has been successful in ensuring more than a 50% turnout in many employer groups during a number of Statutory Ballots. I intend to apply this success throughout the rest of the Justice Sector and other areas of the Civil Service that are in need of our support from the NEC. On 1st February, I organised 5 picket lines in our branch and mentored many new PCS Union Representatives in their first dispute. These workplaces were the Youth Justice Board, Parole Board, Prison Probation Ombudsman, Wales Office and the Northern Ireland Office. They are amongst the lowest paid government bodies and I was proud to stand on their picket lines in Whitehall, Petty France, 1 Horse Guards Road and Canary Wharf in London. Previously, I saved hundreds of jobs in the OPG and the Youth Justice Board, by parliamentary lobbying. In addition, I was the only picket with a Full Time Officer during Targeted Action outside the A1 Highways Agency in South Mimms but the PCS membership has doubled in this workplace. Before Christmas in the thick of the rain, I supported the Border Staff picket line at Heathrow and stood with their local MP, John McDonnell. I pay £20 per month to the PCS Fighting Fund and consider it to be money well spent!

In 2021, I prevented compulsory relocations from Medway Court to another region by lobbying the local Trades Union Council and their Labour councillors. In 2022, this campaigning preserved the local justice of Medway. We need to apply these successful tactics against other offices that are threatened with closure. I am ensuring more representation for our prison staff on the MoJ Group Executive Committee. This representation is important as our PCS members are impacted by so many deaths in the prisons from COVID 19 and, still, face the threat of prison privatisation!

I am on the PCS National Disabled Members’ Forum and the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee. Although I was diagnosed as Autistic in my early childhood, and promoted Autism/Neurodiversity acceptance in the Civil Service, I represent all Disabled Members. I campaign with “Disabled People Against the Cuts” (DPAC) against the appalling Universal Credit and speak at their demonstrations on behalf of PCS. In May 2021, I organised the first historic meeting between the Disabled Workers’ Committees of the TUC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Previoulsy, I have been fighting to protect our members from the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, as more than two – thirds of people who died, have disabilities. Internationally, I have campaigned for the rights of the Disabled and Trade Unions in Ukraine during these terrible times of war.

I represent members up to employment tribunal, preventing many dismissals and ensured re – instatement from dismissal in the Private Sector. Currently, we are pressurising the government over the living wage for every security guard and cleaner in all government bodies and branches. I re – invigorated the National Health and Safety Committee with the National Hazards Campaign. We need further campaigning against bullying, discrimination, stress and deteriorating mental health.

In the OPG of which we have a large percentage of Muslims amongst PCS members, I have promoted Islamapobia Month in November 2022. During my time on the PCS International Committee, I have built links with Trade Unions in many Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East including Palestine, Turkey, Iran and Kurdistan. Recently, I have denounced the appalling treatment of Muslim workers in the Uyghur region of China. As second generation Irish, I campaign for the rights of Black, Asian, Migrant and Ethnic Workers within the TUC. As a result, I pushed for the first historic meeting with the MoJ on behalf of Traveller, Gypsy and Roma rights in the Civil Service in 2020. I, also, ensured that PCS was the first British Trade Union apart from UNITE to support the campaign against the Water Charges in Ireland!

In terms of representing devolved nations, I have spent time helping PCS members in Northern Ireland. I was invited to speak at the PCS lobby meeting in the Stormont Assembly on behalf of the NEC during October 2022. During difficult situations in addition to the cost of living crisis, the interests of Northern Ireland PCS members need to be taken forward at every level up to the NEC.

I campaign against Climate Change. Jointly with the TSSA, I established the first Environmental Sustainability and Just Transition Network Committee within the TUC London, East and South East region. I, also, spoke at the COP26 demonstration in Cambridge on behalf of disabled people impacted by Climate Change, especially those who lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina. I am ensuring a stronger liaison between the PCS NEC and the Aviation Sector. It is important that PCS Representatives at airports have a stronger voice against Climate Change and campaign for more green jobs along with better pay, terms and conditions in the aviation industry.

I will continue to support Mark Serwotka as General Secretary and Fran Heathcote as National President. A united leadership in working with them is vital, if we are to resist more attacks. As a Labour Party Socialist and PCS Left Unity member, I ask you to vote for the Democracy Alliance.