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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 May 2017

PCS conference: Confident delegates back fighting strategy and Jeremy Corbyn

EHRC picket line in London 22 May photo Paula Mitchell, photo Paula Mitchell

EHRC picket line in London 22 May photo Paula Mitchell, photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Marion Lloyd, PCS Left Unity chair and PCS executive committee member (personal capacity)

PCS conference took place in the middle of the general election and delegates voted for motions that mean PCS will do all it can to work for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was due to address conference but had to give apologies because of the Manchester bombing.

PCS national president reelected for a 16th term and Socialist Party member Janice Godrich opened conference by condemning the attack and giving PCS's condolences and support to those affected. PCS would also stand against any attempt to whip up division.

Socialist Party member Katrine Williams set out the nuanced approach in relation to the general election and speech after speech echoed the call for a vote for a Corbyn-led government.

The conference in Brighton was one of confidence and defiance. This was demonstrated at the outset as strikers from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) were welcomed with a standing ovation for their heroic battle against an employer who sacked them by email.

Fighting programme

Delegates voted for policies which arm our union with a strong, fighting agenda to tackle the challenges we face. This includes a strategy to fight the government estates programme, a programme designed to cut jobs, close offices, reduce services and turn huge areas of society into nothing more than ghost towns. A strategy to build co-ordinated action to defeat the 1% pay cap and a strategy to protect jobs were also agreed.

The entire mood was one of hope and confidence which was reflected in the attendance and contributions at the left meetings.

PCS Left Unity met in all major departmental groups; attendance was high and contributions were enthusiastic. A huge attendance at the national Left Unity meeting heard Mark Serwotka, Carmel Gates from PCS' sister union in Northern Ireland Nipsa, and a striker from EHRC.

At a well-attended official National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) fringe meeting chaired by Katrine Williams, delegates heard from PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh, PCS DWP president and newly elected national vice-president Fran Heathcote and NSSN chair Rob Williams.

The Socialist Party public meeting chaired by Janice Godrich heard from Terry Adams on the linked issues of state surveillance, John Macreadie, and the growth of Militant. In conference itself Mark Sewotka moved the national executive motion on the state surveillance of CPSA. He said that John Macreadie had been targeted because he was part of the Militant Tendency as were others such as Chris Baugh who was part of a vicious Sun article.

Peter Taaffe explained that the Socialist Party is calling for support for a Corbyn-led government. Carmel Gates gave an update on the Jobstown Not Guilty trial. A motion in support was passed by unanimously after being moved by Dave Semple. The meeting raised over 700.

The fact that the conference was so well attended despite the attacks on facility time, with most delegates having to take leave, demonstrates the confidence activists and members have in their union.

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