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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 May 2009

PCS conference gathers

Delegates are gathering for the civil service union PCS conference, which starts on 20 May. Meanwhile group conferences are taking place.

Bill Mullins

General secretary Mark Serwotka spoke at all the group conferences. At the Revenue and Customs conference Mark gave a well-received speech, particularly on the question of resisting the attacks on members' jobs and conditions and the strategy of the union to resist them.

Mark then went on to talk about the idea of delegates supporting the union's national executive motion, which will be debated on Wednesday, which calls for the union to be prepared to stand candidates in elections if necessary.

He asked delegates to imagine if a postal worker candidate stood against Pat McFadden, the post office minister, on the issue of opposing privatisation. Or if a PCS candidate stood against James Purnell, the minister who is attacking the welfare rights of many, including single parents.

He said the resolution, if carried, will set off 12 months of massive consultation with the membership. That will be reported back to the 2010 conference. "We will go to every member in a ballot if the resolution is passed", he said.

He also called for people to vote in the euro elections to keep out the BNP, even though he admitted there is little difference between the main parties. Unfortunately he said no more than that, missing the opportunity to point out that the RMT-led No2EU-Yes to Democracy campaign gives PCS members a chance in these elections to vote for a workers' alternative.

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