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6 November 2019

PCS: "Under the right leadership workers are prepared to fight"

Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd, who is standing for general secretary of the civil service union PCS, spoke at the main rally at Socialism 2019. Below are extracts from her fighting speech

"It would be right in every way to start off by recognising the courage and inspiration of workers up and down the country struggling against this Tory government.

The equal pay dispute in Glasgow, the bin workers in Birmingham, the McDonald's workers. The battles in PCS - the recent victory that we've had winning the living wage for super-exploited workers.

And it would be remiss of me not to mention our brave members in HMRC in Ealing, balloting again to try and save their jobs and to save their offices.

And then, of course, the postal workers. What admiration and solidarity we must send to them. Wiping away the Tory trade union laws like they don't mean a thing.

The trade union movement has taken a battering. But these inspirational disputes, and the disputes that are to come, show that under the right leadership, workers are prepared to fight, and fight we damn well will!

Corbyn and Labour

The attitude of the current PCS leadership to dealing with the reality that our members face is to cross their fingers and hope for the return of a Labour government. And that is simply not enough.

Even if a Corbyn government is elected, and even if the Labour Party was united, we know that the capitalist establishment will do everything in its power to try and stop him from implementing his manifesto.

We need general secretaries and leaders that state life as it absolutely is. The Labour Party is two parties in one.

In the left corner, we've got socialists. And in the right corner, we've got pro-business, pro-austerity, people who will stop at nothing to stop Corbyn, and also remove him if they so wish.

And let's not forget that many of these Blairites voted for the cuts, the closures, and the pay freeze that our members are suffering from.

We do not need cheerleaders for the Labour Party. We give them no blank cheque.

We say to them: we want you to implement the policies of our union. And if you don't, we will unite together, and we will struggle.

We need to be absolutely clear. If it's a Labour government, or a government of any colour, that the role of the trade union is to pressure them into conceding our demands.

PCS members can wait no longer. One in ten civil servants earn less than the living wage.

Thousands of workers in DWP and HMRC are claiming the benefits that they administer. We've got record numbers of members in personal debt, struggling to pay the bills, make ends meet, and some are even using food banks.

So to sit back and simply wait for a Labour government is not only something we can't wait for, it's a criminal dereliction of our duty as a trade union movement.

Our job is to join up struggles. Our job is to give members the confidence that with the proper strategy, and effective leadership, we can win.

We need to replace the current leadership. It is spent, and it is worn. They have no faith in our members to struggle. We do.

I notice there is no reference to 'Step Aside, Brother' in Mark Serwotka's campaign for general secretary. Maybe that's because he is being challenged by two women.

But I call on you, Mark Serwotka, to step aside, brother. Not because of your gender, but because you have failed our members. It's time for you to go.

We must learn - I have learnt, all of my working life, by being a member of the Militant and now the Socialist Party - that our struggle is to win the best candidates for our members on the best programme. But I understand as well that it's part of a wider struggle: for socialist change."

UCU strike

Speaking to the Socialist Marion added "Congratulations to members of the University and College Union (UCU) who voted overwhelmingly for action on pay, pensions and terms and conditions. The UCU used a disaggregated ballot strategy and 41 of the branches individually balloted beat the statutory strike ballot threshold.

This result shows that we were right to argue in PCS for an open debate on tactics including the possibility of a disaggregated ballot which would have meant 21 employer areas could have taken action this year on pay.

Myself and other comrades were publically attacked and vilified by Mark Serwotka and his supporters for questioning his single ballot, single issue strategy. As a consequence of losing the ballot there has been no real fight on pay again this year - a failure for which Mark Serwotka has to take full responsibility."




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/29816