On the 17th May Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, announced that he will be retiring next year. PCS Left Unity is proud to have worked with Mark for many years and we wish him an enjoyable retirement.
The election timetable for a new General Secretary will run alongside the election process for the Assistant General Secretary. The elections will be held later in the year and branches will be able to nominate candidates.
The timetable is here:
Monday 2nd September: Call for nominations
Monday 16th October, 5pm: Deadline for receipt of completed nominations
Monday 23rd October, 5pm: Deadline for acceptance and election addresses
Thursday 9th November: Ballot opens
Thursday 14th December, 12 noon: Ballot closes
Upon the announcement of Mark’s retirement the Left Unity National Committee decided a process for selecting our candidates for the two roles. At the end of that process our candidates are.
Fran Heathcote for General Secretary
Paul O’Connor for Assistant General Secretary
Fran joined the DHSS and CPSA in 1993, quickly getting involved in her local BEC. Soon, she became active in the South West, representing CPSA and then PCS at the SW TUC.
Fran became the South West Regional Organiser within DWP and worked with many South West branches, as well as rapidly building her own branch, working with a team of newly recruited reps.
In 2003, Fran was elected to the DWP GEC and soon afterwards, became North East group liaison officer and DWP group Organiser.
On moving to the North East in 2005, she worked with a network of new and more experienced reps to strengthen the region’s organisation, helping to transform the region to be much more inclusive, soon taking up post as Regional Chair.
In 2012, Fran was elected as DWP President, negotiating on many issues during her time, including steering the group through the removal of check-off. Elected to the NEC since 2014, Fran was elected as Vice president in 2017, before becoming Deputy President, then President at the end of 2018.
Fran has a wide range of experience, having held various posts at every level of PCS.
Seasoned anti-austerity campaigner
A seasoned anti-austerity campaigner, with a background of fighting for better social security, Fran is well known for her work as an activist, whether that be supporting our members on picket lines, working with other unions to build for coordinated action or representing PCS at the People’s Assembly, where Fran holds a seat on the steering committee. A tireless advocate for equality and increasing participation within underrepresented groups, Fran is passionate about organising and campaigning, with the bargaining experience to back that up.
Fran has a proud record of working with regions and branches, a building unity across the union.
Paul O’Connor began working in the then Inland Revenue in 1988. He quickly became active in a PCS predecessor union, the Inland Revenue Staff Federation (IRSF). He worked in the Inland Revenue and subsequently HM Revenue and Customs for nearly twenty years, remaining active in the IRSF, the Public Services, Tax and Commerce Union (PTC) and subsequently PCS. He served members in various roles, including Office Rep, Branch Secretary, Branch Organiser, Branch Chair and on the Group Executive Committee. He was also Chair of the PCS North West Region from 2005 to 2007.
In 2007, Paul became a Full-Time Officer of the union, serving as Group Secretary to the Home Office Group. He was promoted to National Officer for the Home Sector in 2010. He was then promoted to Senior National Officer in 2012, a role in which he has served as the unions Head of Bargaining. He manages a team of 7 National Officers and 31 Industrial Officers. He has been at the heart of re-orientating PCS’s staffing structure to make it more responsive to the needs of activists and members.
Paul is also Secretary to the union’s National Disputes Committee, where he has oversight for all of the industrial action campaigns taken forward by the union. He has been instrumental in the establishment of the unions Fighting Fund and the development of our industrial strategy, targeted action funded by a levy, in pursuit of our current national campaign.
Check Off victory in the courts
Paul also has responsibility for taking forward strategic legal cases. He has led litigation against the employer which has seen PCS win seven High Court cases through judicial review, including: overturning detrimental changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, an estimated benefit to members of £100 million per year; establishing a contractual right to check off leading to a £3 million damages settlement for the union from the DWP.
Resisting racist Rwanda deportation policy
Paul was central to defeating the government’s attempt to force PCS members to perform a dangerous pushback manoeuvre on refugees crossing the English Channel. He is continuing to oversee litigation to fight the government’s inhumane Rwanda deportation policy and is campaigning for the dismantling of the hostile environment for refugees in which our members are being forced to work.