A new group has been formed within civil service union PCS's Left Unity grouping. The Broad Left Network is a campaign for a fighting, democratic union made up of socialists and supporters of PCS Left Unity.
The election campaign for the assistant general secretary of PCS raised issues that remain central to the future of our union.
The majority of the Left Unity national committee failed to actively campaign for the election of the candidate chosen by Left Unity members. Some even campaigned for a rival candidate who was not in Left Unity.
This led to the loss of the election and a victory for a political opponent. We cannot rely on these members to respect the decision of Left Unity members in the general secretary election if their preferred candidate is not successful.
At PCS conference in May, leaflets supporting current general secretary Mark Serwotka's election campaign were distributed by some Left Unity national committee members. At that time no Left Unity procedure for deciding its candidate had taken place or been proposed. Many Left Unity activists were outraged by this blatant attempt to pre-empt a Left Unity democratic decision.
The majority on the Left Unity national committee, organised in the 'Socialist View' group, has now made arrangements to hold an election to decide its general secretary candidate.
Left Unity rules require candidates to give a signed undertaking to recommend and campaign for whoever wins the nomination. However, the majority on the national committee are refusing to implement the rules.
The Broad Left Network is proposing to nominate Marion Lloyd. Marion is a leading activist within the union, a PCS national executive committee member and president of the PCS group in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy.
Serwotka and his supporters in Left Unity claim concerns about the under-representation of women in the union. They line up behind the slogan of 'Step Aside Brother' - a top-down, artificial process. But even within the limitations of this approach their commitment is shown to be a complete sham.
At the June national executive committee Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd was removed from the union's key lay body - the policy and resources committee.
At the Midlands regional committee in June they challenged Sian Ruddock for the chair position with a male Socialist Workers Party member.
At the Department for Work and Pensions committee meeting in June they removed Rachel Heemskerk from the PCS trade union-side team, resulting in an all-male delegation.
We consistently campaign for the removal of all barriers to the involvement of women in PCS and the labour movement generally. But we don't agree with mathematical formulae and other bureaucratic approaches.
The Broad Left Network aims to build support for our demands and to campaign for candidates who share these views, and to build a fighting, democratic broad left and to challenge the control exercised by the union officialdom and its echoes in the lay structures.