Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1062/29784
- PCS union general secretary election
PCS: Support Marion Lloyd - a history of workers' struggle and a programme for the future
The election for the next general secretary of the PCS civil and public services trade union runs from 7 November until 12 December.
Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd (pictured right) won 39 branch nominations for general secretary. She is currently PCS BEIS (government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Group President and on the union's national executive committee, and is in the best position to challenge the incumbent, Mark Serwotka. Marion spoke to the Socialist and explained why she believes PCS members should vote for her.
Why are you standing for general secretary?
Because the current leadership is out of touch and doesn't understand, let alone tackle, the day-to-day issues we all face at work.
The insistence by Mark Serwotka and his supporters that we can only have a national campaign on pay, and only pay, is wrong. Their failure to win two national pay ballots has not only weakened us but ignored pensions, jobs and office closures!
Members feel isolated - and left to fight alone.
Surely the most sensible thing to do is to link everything together, to develop a campaign that everyone can get behind and have confidence in. I would build that, working with reps, and go out to the heart of our membership.
That's why I'm standing - to work with members and reps to build that campaign. One which inspires confidence and gets members involved.
What are the key challenges facing the union and its members?
The above, together with equality and building membership.
Poverty pay levels within our membership are appalling. 10% of civil servants earn below the living wage.
In our privatised areas members barely scrape the minimum wage. This is scandalous. We need an almighty campaign to improve our pay so that people can makes ends meet.
We cannot repeat the failed pay strategy of Mark Serwotka. He insisted we should have another single ballot even after losing the first. Rather than listen, he insisted we did it again. What happened? We lost again. Not only has this made members furious, it also means that we're left without any strategy on pay.
21 employer areas met the ballot threshold - including HMRC (revenue and customs department). This means if we had adopted the approach that I suggested - a ballot counted employer by employer - then things could be very different now.
Just imagine 21 areas used to pressure the employer, 21 areas campaigning and striking, 21 areas helping us build the campaign across the union. Just imagine a pay campaign pressuring an employer and a government in complete chaos.
The challenge to solve the problems caused by austerity is key. We must particularly take up the struggle of those most affected - women, BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic), disabled, LGBT+, younger and older workers.
As a working mother, these issues remain close to my heart and I am determined to root equality properly into our bargaining and campaigning.
Challenge number three is to build our membership. 60,000 members lost under the current general secretary's tenure. Staff will join a union winning for them. This will strengthen the union in our workplaces and at the table. That's why we must give resources to our reps on the ground.
What's your position on the possible general election?
I want one, and as soon as possible. I am desperate, like many of our members, to get a Corbyn government elected on a programme to reverse pay decline and job cuts.
But I do not believe that we should affiliate to the Labour Party.We remember the Blair and Brown governments that cut 100,000 civil service jobs; privatised jobs and gave our members away to rotten companies which ruthlessly attacked our members' terms and conditions.
Many of the MPs who supported these policies are still around and are trying to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn - why would we support them? We are a trade union - not an extension of the Labour Party - and both my opponents in this election would do well to remember that.
We should be using our influence to influence politicians to benefit us, not just throw money at them and let them off the hook. This is not what members want.
How will you be different from the current general secretary?
I will actively build a campaign to tackle the issues I have already highlighted. I will ensure that no group of members is left isolated and develop an approach which inspires confidence and a belief we can do something.
I am a working mother on a civil service salary. I know the daily challenges our members face because I too have faced redundancy in recent years and experience the pressure at work.
Unlike Mark Serwotka, who pledged to not take the full general secretary's salary but does, I will stay on my civil service wage and publish details of the money I give back to PCS.
I remain, as I have done all my working life, completely committed to building our union and solving the problems we face at work. I know what to do and how to do it. I will work with reps and members to build the confidence we need so that members will join together to fight the employer.
Endorsements of Marion by PCS activists and members
"If you want to save your office, Marion has done that. Marion has a serious strategy for pay. Action not words"
Dave Semple, NEC and DWP Glasgow branch Assistant Secretary (personal capacity)
"I'm supporting Marion because she is committed to delivering a programme of action that puts lay reps, PCS members, and the working class front and centre."
Fiona Brittle, PCS Scottish Government dept and NEC (personal capacity)
"Marion Lloyd has set out an excellent programme to build PCS's strength from the shopfloor up, ensuring that PCS's bargaining agenda can be delivered, winning a significant pay rise for all PCS members"
Bobby Young, PCS R&C Assistant Group Secretary (personal capacity)
"I have known Marion for over 25 years. She is one of the most hard-working and dedicated lay activists I have come across. She is the longest-serving current group president and has been a constant support to me (in HM Land Registry) as we fought two successful campaigns against privatisation.I'm backing Marion Lloyd to become PCS general secretary because I believe a fundamental change has become necessary at the very top of our union.
"Having lost two national ballots on pay, we need a fresh look at tactics and campaigning. I believe that Marion provides this, as has been evidenced by her leadership in the latest successful BEIS dispute."
Michael Kavanagh, president PCS Land Registry Group (personal capacity)
"I am proud to be supporting Marion Lloyd as I believe that we need to go back to a member and activist-led democratic union. Marion has a proven record campaigning for members, saving jobs and preventing office closures, and is a life-long activist."
Sarah Brown, president PCS Met Police Group (personal capacity)
"Marion Lloyd has set out an excellent programme to build PCS's strength from the shopfloor up, ensuring that the union's bargaining agenda can be delivered, and winning a significant pay rise for all PCS members."
Bobby Young, PCS HMRC assistant group secretary (personal capacity)
"I believe that Marion's record as a campaigner has demonstrated great tenacity and strategic awareness. If deployed across the union, her joined-up approach to organising, campaigning and bargaining is capable of taking members with us across all departments."
Dave Lunn, vice-president PCS HM Land Registry Group (personal capacity)
In The Socialist 30 October 2019:
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