PCS strikers. Photo: Paul Mattsson
PCS strikers. Photo: Paul Mattsson

PCS Broad Left Network opposes detrimental pay deal  and agrees 2023 general secretary and assistant  general secretary candidates – elect Marion Lloyd 

Statement from PCS Broad Left Network

On Saturday 1 July, a special conference of socialist activists from across the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union met to discuss the situation facing more than 400,000 civil servants on pay, redundancy rights, pensions and jobs.

The Broad Left Network (BLN) conference unanimously agreed that the government’s sole meaningful concession, asking departments and agencies to stump up a £1,500 one-off non-consolidated payment to staff, from within existing budgets, was not good enough.

Activists from across PCS condemned the attitude of the current PCS leadership.

The PCS national executive, led by a group known as Left Unity, has already taken steps to wind down the union’s national campaign, by suspending strike action in key areas such as the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA), and by indefinitely suspending reballots, including in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

BLN members have spent the last three weeks organising members’ meetings to discuss the government’s ‘offer’, which is already in the process of being implemented, regardless of what the union’s leadership decides to do with our national campaign.

Saturday’s conference heard clearly the overwhelming view from the union’s members that the fight must go on – because we need an inflation-proof pay rise. We don’t accept the Treasury’s published pay remit of 4.5-5% for 2023-24. We need to force the Treasury to put new money on the table, as so far all pay awards will come from within existing departmental budgets.

Several organisations have already announced that they can’t afford the £1,500. Others have announced that meeting the terms of the offer and any consolidated pay award under the 4.5% cap is likely to result in job cuts. Activists are not prepared to trade off jobs for pay, and members are ready to fight.

BLN activists have agreed that the current leadership has not exhausted our campaign options – having delayed national strike action by three months, from November 2022 until February 2023, and only calling three days of this action. Other options such as action short of strike action must also now be considered, despite the continuing fervent opposition of the union’s leadership.

Members’ strikes have partially succeeded despite PCS leadership failures.

Leadership winding down the campaign

These actions taken by the current leadership of PCS, particularly outgoing general secretary Mark Serwotka and current president Fran Heathcote, have demonstrated how thoroughly out of touch they are with the needs of members, who are overwhelmingly saying they want to fight on.

Under them, the union’s leadership has resorted to scare tactics to avoid serious discussion about how we could continue the campaign. In DWP, this has involved asking members about “more unpaid action” and “doubling [their] payments into the levy for the remainder of the year”.

From the beginning, BLN reps have been critical of the NEC for calling targeted action, punctuated by one day of national unpaid action per month, without ever analysing or making a case about how the action is contributing to forcing the government to retreat.

To jump straight to trying to frighten members about unpaid action or doubling a £3-5 levy, without concretely explaining why either option would help, is a deliberate attempt to elicit an unfavourable reaction. The union’s leadership has begun its own ‘Project Fear’ and is not fit to lead.

Elect a fighting general secretary and AGS to continue our campaign!

BLN activists have agreed to stand candidates in the elections due later in 2023 for general secretary and assistant general secretary.

Marion Lloyd, currently union president in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has been unanimously agreed as the BLN candidate for PCS general secretary.

Fiona Brittle, who currently serves on the national executive and on the union’s Scottish government executive committee, has been unanimously agreed as our candidate for assistant general secretary (AGS).

Saturday’s BLN conference instructed the elected BLN steering committee to continue to seek agreement with the PCS Independent Left (IL) on a programme that would allow us to fight the upcoming elections on a joint slate, with BLN AGS candidate Fiona Brittle standing down in favour of IL candidate for PCS AGS, John Moloney.

Fran Heathcote and Paul O’Connor have been announced as the Left Unity candidates for general secretary and assistant general secretary. They are part of the current leadership and its record. We need to stop their attempts to end the pay campaign and defeat them in the election for general secretary and assistant general secretary. 

National Shop Stewards Network – lobby the TUC

  • Let’s unite to scrap the Tory anti-strike laws
  • 1pm Sunday 10 September
  • Premier Meetings, Liverpool Albert Dock, Merseyside L3 4AD