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From: The Socialist issue 1030, 20 February 2019: Tories out, Blairites out

Search site for keywords: PCS - Unite - Pay - Elections - Socialist - Chris Baugh - Union - SWP - Mark Serwotka - Socialist Workers Party - Marion Lloyd

PCS Left Unity must unite on pay and elections

PCS members on strike at BEIS, photo by Helen Pattison

PCS members on strike at BEIS, photo by Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive committee (personal capacity)

Forty years of union activists' work, building the broad left of the civil servants' union PCS Left Unity - and democratising the union, is being put at risk by the divisive and sectarian antics of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Socialist View group. They remain determined to prevent the Left Unity nominee, Chris Baugh, from being re-elected as PCS assistant general secretary.

Left Unity's success has been due to its emphasis of unity on democratically agreed slates with room for debate and differences on issues. That discipline on candidates is threatened by the Socialist View, SWP and some individual Left Unity members, who are refusing to support Chris Baugh.

They allege he is against the 2019 national pay campaign. This is a lie and repeating the allegation does not make it any more true!

Flexibility

Along with others, in the period of consultation and discussion within Left Unity and the union, Chris and his supporters have raised tactical flexibility on the pay ballot to give the union its best chance to achieve the 50% threshold needed. The union fell short of this in last year's pay ballot.

Chris fully supports the national executive decision about the pay ballot. The SWP and Socialist View, with their continued attacks on Chris Baugh, risk damaging the ballot.

The SWP's involvement in Left Unity over the years has been inconsistent at best. Its recent statement "we are unable to support Chris Baugh as the Left Unity candidate for PCS AGS" shows their sectarianism and indifference to the traditions and democracy of Left Unity.

It also shows hypocrisy. When the SWP opposed Left Unity support for a deal on pensions its journal said: "Honest debate over issues is not a barrier... it is essential".

Socialist View - a group formed within Left Unity around the campaign by the union's general secretary Mark Serwotka against Chris Baugh - poses a serious threat to the inclusive nature of Left Unity. Despite Chris's election as the Left Unity candidate, Socialist View continues to make attacks on him and the Left Unity members who support his re-election.

Socialist View, with SWP support, is the majority group on the Left Unity national committee. In Socialist View articles and in Left Unity national committee majority statements, they approvingly refer to the reluctance of some Left Unity members to support Chris Baugh.

They make no mention of Left Unity rules which require members to support all Left Unity candidates.

Socialist View attacks its opponents for drawing attention to the rules. We are accused of calling for the expulsion of those not complying with them. This is yet another of Socialist View's divisive smears. Supporters of Chris Baugh's

re-election have correctly called upon those holding prominent Left Unity positions to respect the clear rules on supporting Left Unity slates or resign from these positions.

Mark Serwotka created division within Left Unity, but has now turned his back on it with his public support for Lynn Henderson, a PCS full-time officer who has never been in Left Unity.

The continued attacks on Chris Baugh by Socialist View and the SWP weaken Left Unity as a democratic, inclusive, and rank-and-file organisation. The exaggeration of differences, for sectarian reasons, threatens the election campaign. Socialist View's misrepresentation of the 2019 pay campaign undermines the united effort required to win the statutory ballot.

In contrast, the Socialist Party, Chris Baugh and the increasing number of lay reps who support his re-election are clear. We stand for a united campaign on the agreed candidates in the union elections, for the election of Chris Baugh as assistant general secretary and for the Democracy Alliance national executive slate. We stand behind the national pay campaign unanimously agreed at the national executive on 5 February.

Chris Baugh's record of over 40 years as a union activist and senior elected full-time officer is unrivalled - building the left, fighting for union democracy, campaigning for pay and against austerity, and being elected assistant general secretary three times. But now his critics say they will not back him because he wanted a discussion on how we can win on pay, including employing the best tactics to beat the undemocratic Tory threshold.

Left Unity must unite to win the elections and the pay campaign.

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