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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2006

PCS conference: The record of a campaigning union

CIVIL SERVICE union PCS conference takes place from 5 June, with the Left Unity-led national executive (NEC) having increased its majority for the fourth year running. This is an endorsement of the campaigning and organising work that PCS has carried out and in particular of the public sector pensions deal struck last year.

Mark Baker, PCS NEC, personal capacity

Scottish Socialist Party and CWI member Janice Godrich increased her majority to over 10,000 votes in re-winning the president's position. The two right-wing groups, who had six seats between them, have been reduced to just one place on the NEC. Every Left Unity member who stood was successful and there are now ten Socialist Party members elected.

This result is largely endorsed by the conference agenda. Those tiny left groups who have criticised the pensions deal as a "sell-out" have not been able to sell this idea to members.

Even motions that are critical of aspects of the pensions deal acknowledge that retaining the right for all existing staff to receive their full pension at 60 was a significant concession won by the union as a result of the threat of industrial action. The deal for new entrants is likely to be known shortly after conference when it will be put to a ballot.

The government's job cuts agenda is also likely to feature very highly in conference debates with members taking action in a number of areas. In the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in particular, the pressure of the cuts is beginning to bite and members look set to continue with their campaign of industrial action. The demands put forward by the left-led DWP Group are now gaining an echo in other parts of the union.

Members in the Government Offices for the Regions (GO) are also entering into an indicative ballot which may result in the first-ever GO strike.

An indicative ballot is also underway in the MOD and members in the Learning and Skills Council have already taken their first-ever action too. 2,000 members in the Office for National Statistics are being balloted for strike action over job cuts and relocations.

Achievement

Despite cuts having taken place and jobs having been lost we have avoided any compulsory redundancies - an achievement when you consider other recent examples of job losses and closures, particularly in private-sector industries. Also, against this background, PCS membership has continued to increase where other unions continue to decline.

This is as a result of a leadership that is prepared to fight for members' jobs, terms and conditions.

Our national pay campaign is also now to be stepped up. With over 200 different negotiations across the union going on and regular government reorganisations, the case for national pay has been won in most activists' eyes.

However, many members still need convincing, as anyone who has joined the service in the last ten years will not have experienced the benefits of national pay. Coupled with this is a fight against regional pay. The government are keen on this as it helps their so-called "efficiency" agenda by making it easier to move jobs to lower-paying areas and even off shore, delivering the services we provide from call centres rather than face-to-face.

PCS has truly been transformed from a tame servicing union, which was the hallmark of unions during the 1990s 'social partnership with the employers' era, to a bold campaigning union.

This is also reflected by our growth in young activists and women who now make up 40% of our union reps. These figures are envied by other unions but if they make the break with the servicing of the past to the campaigning of the future, they too can emulate our achievements.


Want a party that stands up for the millions, not the millionaires?

Join the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

PCS conference fringe meeting

Wednesday 7 June, 7.30pm

The Quality Hotel, Forest Suite, West Street, Brighton

Speaker: Dave Nellist, chair of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 1 June 2006:


Socialist Party NHS campaign

'Stop the NHS cuts, end low pay'

"We're seeing the Americanisation of the NHS"


Environment: Nuclear power

Blair goes nuclear


Socialist Party campaigns

Can the Tories win the next election?

A strategy to take on New Labour


International socialist news and analysis

Iraq - lame duck leaders have no solution

Brazil: Hundreds killed by brutal military police

Massaker


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'Correction' or crash?

Crisis in the Scottish Socialist Party


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference: The record of a campaigning union

Drivers strike over tax bills

Tesco goes west - with non-union job ads


 

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