Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 December 2000

Right routed in civil service election

MARK SERWOTKA, a Left Unity member standing on an independent socialist ticket, has been elected general secretary of civil service union PCS. His election is an indication of the deep discontent amongst members with the right-wing union leadership and its failure to represent their interests against the Blair government's policies.

Kevin Kelly, PCS Land Registry, personal capacity

That leadership have meekly accepted a partnership agreement with New Labour, which has meant the worsening of working conditions, performance-related pay and the break-up of pay bargaining into over 200 units. Mark Serwotka's victory was celebrated by rank-and-file members who will see it as an opportunity to repair this damage to pay and working conditions.

His unexpected victory over Hugh Lanning, PCS assistant general secretary, was by 40,740 votes to 33,942, on about a 30% turnout. It comes after the earlier success when right-wing general secretary Barry Reamsbottom withdrew from the election.

The final outcome of the whole election campaign was a testament to the correctness of the position of Left Unity, including Socialist Party members. When Barry Reamsbottom refused to stand for re-election, in spite of a 1998 conference resolution, they played an important role at the May 2000 conference in winning support for a general secretary election. This support was then turned into a yes vote for a new election in the ensuing membership ballot.

When Left Unity held a selection meeting, dependent on whether or not they finally decided to stand a candidate for general secretary, Terry Adams, a Socialist Party member and PCS national officer, won against Mark Serwotka.

The Left Unity conference decided, following a full debate, that the priority for the PCS and the wider trade union movement was to defeat and remove Reamsbottom. Terry Adams correctly accepted that decision.

Left Unity decided to give very critical support to Hugh Lanning to avoid splitting the anti- Reamsbottom vote and on the basis of assurances given by Lanning about his programme.

Mark Serwotka participated in this discussion but refused to accept the Left Unity decision. Many Left Unity members argued that he risked losing the opportunity to get rid of Reamsbottom by standing as a candidate.

The Left Unity decision to give critical support to Lanning, together with the campaign waged against Reamsbottom over many years by Left Unity and the Socialist Party, forced Reamsbottom to cut and run and seek a deal from the union.

It was subsequently revealed that he only got 32 branch nominations instead of the required 50. The deal was that Reamsbottom would withdraw from the election and withdraw his court case against the union, provided he could continue as general secretary until 2002 and be paid until 2004.

Reamsbottom's forced withdrawal was a major victory, greeted with jubilation by activists both inside and outside the union.

In the light of Reamsbottom's last-minute withdrawal, Socialist Party members called upon the PCS leadership and the candidates, Lanning and Serwotka, to reopen the election process to allow members, branches and political groupings to nominate fresh candidates. This was refused.

Faced with an election between Mark Serwotka and Hugh Lanning, the Left Unity national committee recommended support for Mark Serwotka. This Left Unity support was critical for his electoral success.

PCS members and activists will now look to Mark Serwotka to take up his post as general secretary elect on 1 February 2001 (see article below) and begin to argue for and develop with Left Unity NEC members, the socialist programme he stood on in the election.

Reamsbottom will continue as the outgoing general secretary for a while. Mark Serwotka will need to confront Reamsbottom and the PCS bureaucracy to establish his position. Socialist Party members in Left Unity will work with Mark Serwotka to help build Left Unity, to implement Conference policies and to act in the interests of PCS members.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 December 2000:

End Low Pay

Shut Down Hackney on 20 December

Marching Against Europe's well healed leaders in Nice

Squabbling in the bunker

Vauxhall threatened by profits crisis

Lock up Blair's curfew plans!

Right routed in civil service election

Elected to fight for members' interests


Home   |   The Socialist 15 December 2000   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Mark Serwotka:

trianglePCS: Re-elect the left and fight for decent pay

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

triangleStrike together for better pay

triangleBrighton: NSSN rally at the TUC Congress


triangleItalian elections create huge political shake-up

triangleSocialist Party congress 2018

triangleMay's EU speech kicks the can down the road

triangleBlairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor

Civil Service:

trianglePCS executive agrees next steps in pay campaign

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

trianglePCS union says no to pay misery


triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Socialist Party:

triangleHomes for All - Not billionaire profit!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Homes for All - Not billionaire profit!



School strikes against academy management



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018