PCS now faces a very difficult 5 years ahead. Anyone not convinced about that should just ‘google’ Dominic Cummings’ comments about the future of the civil service.
We are in the process of rebuilding our parliamentary group and will work with MPs, inside and outside Parliament, to build support for our campaign on pay, pensions and the CSCS. We will continue to assess the situation, consulting our members at every stage as we move forward.
The protection of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) is of massive importance to all members, a good example being those in HMRC who are facing a hugely uncertain future. It is PCS, and the campaign that we have continued for 4 years now, that has successfully defended the 2010 terms, and resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of pounds in our members’ pockets.
We have to recognise the very real concerns of all members, those affected in HMRC and in all other departments, and must do all that we can to protect them, and that means building a campaign that can defend them.
Linking the issues of pay, pensions and CSCS is completely logical at a time when we have conference policy on all of them and they all converge to see us in a potential dispute as early as the spring of 2020.
We are not seeking to build a long list of issues, or include issues that affect some groups differently, rather to unite our members over a clear set of demands. Let’s remember that the aim here is not just to win a ballot (although that is essential), but in fact to win real gains for our members. The issues above cannot be resolved at delegated level and must therefore form our national campaign. We don’t want to just take what we can get using a ‘shopping list’ of issues, we want to win the best deals possible and that means a joined-up campaign.
Members will have seen some recent material which attempts to distort the facts about the NEC’s political strategy – namely Marion Lloyd’s assertion, on behalf of the Socialist Party front, Broad Left Network, in her bid to be PCS president that ‘unlike her opponents, she is against Labour Party affiliation’. This is of course, not factually correct because Labour Party affiliation is not supported by the NEC, by Mark Serwotka or by me, nor is it conference policy.
It is not Left Unity policy and this repeated lie seeks to paint a picture of a PCS leadership supporting affiliation, to appeal to the most conservative, and even right-wing, elements within PCS as a further distraction. Nothing could be further from the truth. Left Unity will continue to follow conference policy, with industrial and political strategies to defend and advance the interests of our members.
The PCS NEC did agree, in the run-up to the General Election, to support the election of a Corbyn-led Labour government, based on their policy commitments, as we believed that would be in the best interests of our members.
An initial assessment of the consultation that was carried out in regions and branches, shows support for the policy of calling for a Labour vote in England and Wales. The result in Scotland also confirmed our position not to call for a vote for Labour there, but instead urging members to vote to keep the Tories out.
All regions except Northern Ireland responded, and in answer to the question ‘should the union recommend a vote for Labour in the General Election?’, all except Scotland answered yes. The only equality committee to respond was Proud, who answered the same. Branches were split along geographic lines, with Scottish branches opposing a Labour vote and the majority of branch responses in England and Wales supporting it.
To somehow seek to turn this into a debate over Labour Party affiliation is just wrong. It isn’t, and it never was.
The job of a responsible leadership now is to move forward with as much unity as possible, taking into account all views and building a joined-up campaign amongst regions, branches and groups. I see that as my main role as I lead the National Executive Committee. We need to be careful not to descend into personal abuse or manufacture narrow political differences, as some seem intent on doing. Members have chosen Mark Serwotka to lead PCS for the next 5 years and it is important that we all respect the democratic process, however you voted.
I am proud to work with Mark to deliver our policies and will continue to do so. Let’s not get distracted from protecting our members’ interests, that is, after all, what we are elected to do.
Left Unity now has a list of candidates with the commitment, drive and experience to lead PCS through the period ahead. We have not sought to sew division, or poach candidates from any other groupings. All of our candidates have committed to work together in the best interests of members, united by a willingness to fight for members and work together with our General Secretary in our members’ interests and not those of any external grouping.
We ask for your support and we ask that you demonstrate that by nominating our candidates at your branch AGM. We owe it to our members to put all of our efforts into ignoring the distractions and winning on the issues that matter to them.
Fran Heathcote is standing as President as part of the Left Unity slate