PCS on strike in 2023, Nottingham. Photo: Gary Freeman
PCS on strike in 2023, Nottingham. Photo: Gary Freeman

Vote Marion Lloyd for president and a strong, effective national leadership

PCS member

On 18 April, national elections commence in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. Thirty-five posts, including the union’s national president, are to be elected.

Only one group of candidates is putting forward socialist policies for a fighting, democratic PCS, able to take on the government – whoever is in power – in defence of workers: Marion Lloyd and the team of candidates supported by the Broad Left Network (BLN), in which the Socialist Party participates.

The BLN is fighting on key issues facing civil servants from Westminster government departments, civil servants from devolved government departments, and outsourced workers:

  • A serious national campaign on pay, pensions, jobs and rights at work
  • A pay rise of 10% and pay restoration to undo the impact of austerity
  • Stop job cuts and office closures, maximise flexible and hybrid working
  • Equality at work: end discrimination, root out harassment and bullying
  • An accountable, reinvigorated, democratic union

At the same time as campaigning for these candidates, Socialist Party members in PCS are working hard to secure a ‘yes’ vote in the union’s strike ballot that began in March. The stakes are high.

Pressures of general election

A general election is looming. The Socialist Party has warned that the leaderships of all trade unions, even those that have led a fight in the last two years, will be under tremendous pressure to hold back action by their members in the run-up to and following a general election. Recent conferences of the NEU, Unison health and UCU in further education, as reported in the Socialist, have already seen union leaders arguing against preparing for serious action at this stage because of the expectation of a Labour government.

We all want to get the Tories out. But we must place demands on Labour – clearly articulating what is needed by members and demanding that Starmer makes those pledges now. In PCS, that means demanding now that Keir Starmer commits to a 10% pay rise as a step towards pay restoration; that he commits now to ending cuts and privatisation in the civil service.

Those demands will be much stronger if they are backed up by action. And the pressure on Starmer would be stronger still if trade unions, including PCS, were to support candidates in elections that stood on our side.  

That is what makes these president and NEC elections so important. We could be going into PCS conference with a fighting socialist national president and a stronger NEC that will offer a different lead to that being prepared by the current general secretary and president.

Current leadership not up to the task

BLN supporters were at the forefront of the huge ballot efforts in 2022 and 2023, when 133,000 PCS members in the civil service won a mandate for strike action on pay, pensions, rights and jobs.

Our ballot result was declared on 10 Nov 2022, giving us a mandate that under Tory anti-union laws would last for six months. Immediately, reps began planning for and demanding serious action, to unite with the railway workers, postal workers, teachers, nurses, doctors and all other groups taking and preparing for action. The union’s National Executive Committee (NEC) did not deliver this.

PCS Left Unity (LU), the grouping which currently controls the NEC, delayed by a month before calling any action at all, in targeted areas, and waited three months before calling national action. This immediately weakened the campaign; instead of an immediate, visible show of unity across departments, with strike rallies across all major cities and towns, members and reps were left wondering what was happening.

When action was called, it was one day of national action every six weeks, punctuated with small areas taking longer strike action. The NEC did not undertake any analysis of how the strikes would impact the government, and so did not have answers when reps and members asked what the strategy was.

The NEC leapt upon the first offer by the Tory government, made on 2 June 2023: of a pro-rata, one-off, non-consolidated payment of £1,500. This offer fell well short of the union’s demand of a 10% pay rise, as agreed by its conference.

But the NEC cancelled the union’s campaign. Strike action that had already started was called off, and reballots were halted. At just the moment when the government blinked, and more could have been won if we held our nerve, the NEC gave up.

Turning point

This has been a turning point for a lot of activists and members, who have experienced a rightward drift by the leadership over a period.

Speeches online and in meetings are rarely matched in practice. During Covid, the current leadership capitulated to national unity and ‘parked’ the 2020 pay claim. 

In previous years, when the union was struggling to win national ballots, the BLN proposal that the leadership should consider disaggregated ballots provoked quite a number of NEC members to denounce us as “saboteurs” – until they flipped their position in 2022, disaggregated the ballot and we won our mandate for strike action.

Increasingly high-handed behaviour by the LU leadership has proved alienating to reps who have felt not listened to. The union has lost thousands of reps over the last period. The NEC, in its annual organising report, dishonestly attempts to hide this by using ‘activist’ figures, but this includes ‘advocates’, who are not union reps.

Even Annual Delegate Conference (ADC), the centre of the union’s democracy, has for a number of years been seen as being manipulated by LU, to pose as militant and to raise the profile of their candidates.

This was particularly exposed at ADC 2023 with the attempt by LU to shut down PCS Proud, the union’s organisation for LGBT+ members, and to remove a prominent trans PCS rep from her position on the TUC LGBT+ committee. Delegates angrily threw out both NEC proposals.

Mood for change

Reps and members up and down the union have been growing in discontent. In December 2023, Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd came within 800 votes of being elected as PCS general secretary, winning 48% of the vote. 

In that election, BLN activists ran on a joint ticket with supporters of another grouping, the PCS Independent Left (IL). Scores of activists in Revenue and Customs split from LU, following  years of attempting to get their concerns addressed, and backed Marion for general secretary. IL supporter John Moloney was re-elected as assistant general secretary.

In the national elections that are about to start, for the first time ever, the BLN-backed candidate for president, Marion Lloyd, beat the branch nominations tally of the establishment candidate, Martin Cavanagh, who is current acting-president. A socialist alternative is increasingly possible, with the chance of rebuilding the fighting, democratic spirit in PCS that reps were historically so proud of.

Vote ‘yes’ in the strike ballot – vote Marion Lloyd for president

We want a massive mandate for strike action across the 171 employers being balloted. The average pay rise required to undo the impact of austerity since 2010 is 39%, which is a massive figure. To win 10% to begin the process of undoing austerity will require a serious campaign.

The NEC has not taken a single step to campaign in the nine months since June and then, without preparation, launched a strike ballot to coincide with the national elections. By doing so they trigger dozens of meetings across the union that LU figures get to chair and speak at, posing as campaigners, boosting their profile.

Such cynicism has no place in PCS. It is time for a change. We need to elect serious leaders for the serious fight facing us.

Please vote for the following candidates in the national elections, which run from 18 April to 9 May


Lloyd, Marion (DSIT)

Vice Presidents

Carlsen, Bryan (HSE)
Laidlaw, Bev (DWP)
Semple, Dave (DfE)
Wesley, Hector (HMRC)

NEC members

  • Bishell, Tom (DWP)
  • Brittle, Fiona (Scottish Govt)
  • Carlsen, Bryan (HSE)
  • Chown, Josh (Home Office)
  • Clarke, Eleanor (Cabinet Office)
  • Criddle, Gemma (HMRC)
  • Cuckson, Victoria (HMRC)
  • Davidson, John (HMRC)
  • Day, Chris (National Archives)
  • Dennis, Alan (Defence)
  • Hamer, Chip (Culture)
  • Heemskerk, Rachel (DWP)
  • Jones, David (DLUHC)
  • Laidlaw, Bev (DWP)
  • Lawton, Reece (DWP)
  • Lloyd, Marion (DSIT)
  • Marks, Chris (DWP)
  • Menezes-Jackson, Vijay (DWP)
  • Norris, Liat (MoJ)
  • Ritchie, Rob (Met Police)
  • Rosser, Jon-Paul (HMRC)
  • Semple, Dave (DfE)
  • Smith, John (HMRC)
  • Spencer, Gary (DLUHC)
  • Tweedale, Saorsa-Amatheia (DWP)
  • Virtue, John (HMRC)
  • Williams, Katrine (DWP)
  • Worswick, Craig (Home Office)
  • Wright, Annette (HMRC)
  • Young, Bobby (HMRC)