Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/533/4109
Left wins in PCS executive elections
The Democracy Alliance (made up of Left Unity, including Socialist Party members, and the PCS democrats) was re-elected in the recent civil service union PCS national executive elections.
Janice Godrich, the president and a member of the CWI section in Scotland, was re-elected with a vote that exceeded the combined votes of the right wing and the ultra left. (See www.pcs.org.uk for full results).
It was the same with the rest of the PCS national executive where John McInally, also a Socialist Party member, was elected as one of the four vice presidents of the union.
Left Unity by itself has an overall majority on the national executive - an endorsement of the left's leadership in the face of the government's cuts and privatisation programme.
Ten years ago, PCS was very nearly strangled in its early stages by an illegal coup by the right-wing 'Moderate' faction and their leader, ex-general secretary Barry Reamsbottom, who tried to sack democratically elected general secretary Mark Serwotka.
Janice Godrich, PCS president, personal capacity
The coup was defeated by the efforts of members and activists, but if it had succeeded PCS would have been left weakened and defenceless.
The Democracy Alliance, with PCS Democrats, was built to oppose the 'Moderate' coup, under the key influence of Socialist Party members and Left Unity.
The primary aim of the alliance was to democratise the union. Only a democratic union with a leadership absolutely committed to conference policy and in which the leadership, activists and members are organised and resolute in the face of attacks will ever defend jobs, terms and conditions and pay.
When Brown announced the massive job cuts and privatisation agenda in July 2004, the Democracy Alliance executive responded by launching the biggest campaign in civil service history. This has protected pensions, stopped plans to remove paid sick leave and saved tens of thousands from potential compulsory redundancy. In protecting pensions it is no accident that PCS played a pivotal role in developing a powerful public-sector union alliance. With careful work, this can defend members and help in the future to roll back years of cuts.
PCS's willingness to back up its campaign work by taking industrial action when necessary has made the government and employer take notice of the union. Under the right-wing it was regarded as a joke and a pushover.
PCS has proved that even in the face of enormous odds, trade unions can make a difference and defend their members' interests - that is why our union is a beacon to workers in struggle and to activists in other unions.
PCS is under no illusion regarding the tremendous challenges we face, given that the government and political establishment is so anti-public sector. However, the absolute commitment of the left leadership in PCS to democratisation, consultation, involvement of activists and members and in developing campaigning priorities and successful action based on members' real concerns has built a remarkable confidence. Working together, we can make a difference - a real antidote to the cynicism that is so prevalent throughout many other trade union movement leaderships.
We all must now redouble our efforts to build on the foundations already laid and to build the campaign to protect the civil and public service. The Democracy Alliance will continue to unite and work with all those in PCS who respect conference policy and will organise the union to defend members' interests.
In The Socialist 14 May 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party review