PCS DWP Elections – Nominate today!

DWP Group President and Left Unity President

With DWP AGMs taken place, Left Unity is asking for your nominations and support. Leaflet and nominations can be found here.

In the next few weeks every DWP branch will hold its AGM. This is an opportunity to nominate candidates for this year’s PCS DWP Group Executive Committee elections and DWP block vote elections at conference and we are asking for your vote. We believe they are a balance of strong, experienced union reps who will consult you and involve you in campaigns to back up negotiations. The period ahead will be tough. You need a GEC with the ability and experience to stand up for you. They will work together with you for better pay and for better conditions at work.

Getting Results
Working with you and your local reps to make gains, this year the current Left Unity GEC has:

  • Mounted a huge campaign over low pay in DWP in which thousands of members got involved, forcing DWP to go to the Treasury and get agreement to break the 1% pay cap, one of only two departments to be successful in getting agreement for pay flexibility.
  • Continued to prevent compulsory redundancies within DWP and secured permanent jobs for FTA staff, ensuring that all Universal credit FTAs were made permanent.  Negotiated increases in staffing levels in various arms of Operations 
  • Supported Universal Credit sites in Glasgow and Bolton in their industrial action submission, backing up their action with negotiations which led to a successful outcome, ensuring working conditions in Universal Credit will be better for everyone in UC as a result of the campaign. 
  • Secured talks with DWP about a better, more flexible approach to ways of working across the business, with potential to make improvements throughout DWP. 
  • Worked with branches to sign up record numbers during the direct debit campaign, negotiating throughout to ensure reps had full access to members and the maximum sign-up time. Leading to approximately 90% of members signing up.
  • Taken DWP to court over DWP’s decision to remove check-off – a date has now been set for the hearing. 
  • Defended terms & conditions for all DWP staff, preventing the worst elements of Cabinet Office policies from being introduced in DWP 
  • Successfully challenged proposals in Brighton jobcentre to reduce the amount of security guard cover available, defending the health and safety of members in that office.

Their Promise
These candidates will continue to work with you to negotiate and campaign for more staff and job security for us all. They will fight for a decent pay rise for all whilst protecting your working conditions. They will continue to campaign for the best terms and conditions for all staff and for more improvements to attendance management. They will continue to fight to stop office closures and oppose any privatisation of our work. Finally, they will work closely with Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich to put the full weight of the DWP members behind the national campaign to defend our jobs, conditions and pensions.

YOUR VOTE COUNTS – MAKE SURE YOU USE IT Every nomination for these Left Unity candidates sends a message to management that you want a strong campaigning union that will continue to defend your interests. Make sure you take the time to nominate them at your branch AGM and ensure a strong, capable union leadership in the tough period ahead. Nominate your candidates today.

Click here to download the DWP Leaflet and Slate for nominations.

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PCS Elections 2016 – re-elect a fighting, campaigning leadership

We are writing to request that you nominate and support Democracy Alliance candidates in this year’s 2016 National Executive Committee Elections to continue to lead this union. Under the leadership of the Democracy Alliance – an alliance between Left Unity and the PCS Democrats – PCS has continued to grow in strength and reputation as a fighting, campaigning, democratic union.

The Democracy Alliance led NEC has campaigned tirelessly against the Government’s “Austerity” agenda of sustained attack – an assault on jobs, pay, terms and conditions, along with increased workloads and privatisation.Working together with members and reps the Democracy Alliance NEC has achieved negotiated settlements which have protected members’ interests, including protecting many thousands from compulsory redundancy.

If we are to have any chance of victory in the face of the attack on Civil Service Jobs, Pay and terms and conditions then a strong leadership with a proven track record is required. Only a Democracy Alliance led NEC has the analysis and strategy capable of achieving such a victory.

It is likely the current NEC will be challenged by right wing candidates, who are the discredited “moderate” grouping now re-branded as 4themembers. They want us to return to a do-nothing policy of bowing down in the face of the Government’s attacks. They have campaigned in the past for NO votes in industrial action ballots and some of their candidates have argued that we can do nothing to stop the cuts and suggested partnership with a Tory government! Any gains we have won under the most difficult circumstances will be under threat if they ever returned to power.

The right wing are undemocratic and weak. They tried to prevent Mark Serwotka from taking office as General Secretary after he won his first  election and spend more time attacking their own union than the employer and the government. Only a Democracy Alliance led NEC is committed to implementing Conference policy and building a campaigning, democratic union. Given the scale of attacks from the Government a strong determined leadership is crucial. It is therefore vital the Democracy Alliance is once again returned to lead the union and defend members’ interest.

We urge every Branch to nominate the Democracy Alliance candidates (see attached leaflet for use in your branch. If you want a strong union, please do your best to get your branch to nominate these candidates.

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PCS Left Unity: Fighting to defend our union

Kevin Mc1Kevin McHugh Left Unity editor details the back ground to the NEC decision on suspension of national and group elections for a maximum of 12 months. Download the leaflet here for distribution in your branch. 

The Financial crash of 2008 and the Tory/Liberals Austerity programme has become the pretext for a transfer of wealth to the richest in our society. It has also become the pretext for an attack upon all the social gains won by trade unions in the post war period.. Because of the national campaign we have waged in defence of members interests and being in the forefront of demanding a co-ordinated response to Austerity, this Government have targeted PCS.

The  cuts in facilities, removal of national facility time, union busting documents for the HMRC Board, Unison officials negotiating with anti-union Maude to secure bargaining rights where PCS is the recognised union, and the ending of check off in major departments represents a crude union busting agenda. This is about reducing the influence of PCS and leaving members defenceless against the cuts and privatisation agenda.

The moves to end check off are a cynical ploy to attack our membership income that funds our vital work representing members on an individual and collective basis.

The strategy for uniting to defeat the union busting agenda is set out in the Left Unity statement and an article by Mark Serwotka in Civil Service World. This statement concentrates on the steps taken to protect PCS and our capacity to fight back. It summarises our financial position and sets out the arguments behind the decisions taken, including the suspension of elections for a maximum of 12 months.  This is fundamental to protecting the union’s financial position and funding our work in fighting for member’s interests.

The 2014 Financial Report gave a full and accurate report of the union’s financial position. It reported that a deficit in 2012 was successfully turned around into a small surplus in 2013. This was down to planning, reducing expenditure and balancing our bargaining, organising and campaign priorities.

Key Facts –

The ‘cautious optimism’ for a surplus at the end of 2014 has been borne out. The 2014 budget was based on a detailed estimate of reduced income. This estimate of 20,000 fewer members is based on the reductions for each year since the Tory/Liberal government took office. 20,000 less members means 1.9 million less income and this is explicitly set out in the Financial Report endorsed by ADC. PCS was in good financial health but still faced an enormous challenge. It is in this context that this provides the reasons behind the decision to suspend the national and group elections in 2015.

PCS publishes a 70 page Financial Report with 4 page summary for branches and conference delegates which are published on the website. It gives a detailed breakdown of all areas of union expenditure and is put to ADC for endorsement. PCS publishes a level of information about our finances that far exceed our legal requirements to the Certification Office. The threat to check off was the subject of an NEC Emergency Motion, the National Organising Strategy and was a recurring theme throughout the conference.

At ADC in May PCS was pressing the Cabinet Office and Departments and lobbying politicians against ending check off PCS prepared a detailed case for retaining check off in the event of departments consulting. To protectour financial and organisation independence from future employer attacks ADC agreed to immediately start signing up members by direct debit with a target date of April 2015. As departments notified PCS on ending check off, detailed projections of the impact were drawn up. The projections are based on a detailed analysis of the monthly/annual income of each group facing an end to check off, the estimated date when check off would end in each department, the DD sign up rate and an estimated monthly loss of income in each department. The estimate shows in order for PCS to produce a budget that balances our income with expenditure, we will need to reduce expenditure by 6.5 million from an annual budget of 26.4 million.

Reducing expenditure by 6.5 million in 2015 alone would involve significant reductions in employment costs (these represent approx 55% of union expenditure) and significant reductions in non-staff costs (set out in the 2014 Financial Report). PCS has  rightly given assurances on avoiding compulsory redundancies. Voluntary redundancies take longer and is why we are setting a 2015 Budget with the aim of providing a balanced budget over a 3 year period (the end of 2017). To ensure we are able to continue balancing our bargaining, campaign and organising priorities the NEC are conducting a strategic review of union structures. This means we need to identify savings from every area or union expenditure. This work was reported to the December NEC with a range of options. Savings of over 3 million were set out as options but further consultation was needed to finalise figures. These included conference, campaigns, affiliations, network administration and travel and subsistence with all budgets looked at for savings. As part of the overall figure of 3 million, the union could reduce expenditure by 600,000 if the annual national and group elections were suspended in 2015. To realise a saving of £600,000 would need a decision prior to the New Year break. Branches need to receive briefings and regulations covering AGM’s, motions to group and national conference and elections in advance of AGM’s.

The elected leadership of PCS needed to take prompt and difficult decisions in the interests of protecting the financial position of the union. The primary reason for suspending the elections is financial but a number of factors needed to be weighed up. PCS has a strong democratic practice and culture. Annual elections are an expression of this. The elections are suspended for a maximum of 12 months only. Not making this significant saving would mean adding 600,000 to the deficit at the end of 2015 or having to make equivalent savings from other budgets. To protect our financial position we are aiming to keep the end of year deficit for 2015 as low as possible as this assists us in reaching a balanced budget by the end of 2017. The non-staff savings identified for 2015 (including the suspension of elections) are the product of a detailed and rigorous examination of all areas of union expenditure. No area is immune from this process.

Signing up 180,00 PCS members to paying subs by direct debit by the end of March represents the mother of all recruitment exercises. The huge resources, work and energy required to do this effectively means to run national and group elections over the same period would divert much needed resources away from this vital work. This is a major factor when you consider the work involved around AGM’s and Group and National Elections and the 50% cut in representatives facility time. While we have already signed up an impressive 75,000 PCS members (50% of members in departments affected) there is much work to do in a very short timescale if we are to minimise the loss of income in the months of April, May and June in particular.

These are the facts that explain the steps PCS has taken to deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced, an attempt by the government to destroy our union. The hard decisions taken by our campaigning national leadership, including the suspension of the national and group elections, were to ensure the survival of our union. We can defeat this attack if we work together in unity and solidarity.

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Left Unity on attacks on PCS and the National Elections

PCS has been the backbone of resistance to the coalition government’s austerity cuts and privatisation programme. Because of that we now face an all out assault aimed at destroying our ability to represent members and defend jobs, conditions and services. This is the most serious attack on trade union and democratic rights since the Miners Strike. The principal purpose of this attack is to destroy any organised resistance to the destruction of the public sector under the guise of austerity. Osborne’s Autumn Statement revealed Tory plans for a stepping up of their unremitting, brutal, class war. Under cover of this statement Cabinet Office Secretary Frances Maude slipped through plans for a staggering £20bn privatisation bonanza for the City. Unchallenged these cuts will represent a catastrophe for the working class and middle classes too. Their aim is not to “reform” the public sector. The coalition government represent the political and business elite which now demonstrates many features of an open kleptocracy which is driving, with no mandate, the systematic theft and destruction of the nations assets and services in order to line their own pockets, with Maude himself personally conducting the onslaught on PCS. He was humiliated by PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka when his justifications for the theft of public sector pensions were forensically exposed as lies.

Maude’s strategy to crush PCS so far has been based on the following tactics;

1 – Refusal to negotiate with PCS on national bargaining issues like pay, jobs, privatisation etc and “justifying” this by claiming PCS doesn’t want to negotiate, a calculated, politically motivated lie. The Tories believe that by restricting engagement to departmental level they can divide the union and systematically remove bargaining rights on a piecemeal basis.

2 – Attack union facility time. This is specifically designed to destroy or marginalise the activist base of PCS in order to weaken the union’s ability to effectively represent its members and bargain on their behalf. The union’s leadership has been specifically targeted with, for example, the Deputy President having had all facilities removed.

3 – Removal of check-off in a deliberate attempt to financially destroy the union. PCS is the best organised and most effectively administered union in Britain and will manage to get the majority of its current membership signed up to direct debit. But all previous removals of check-off demonstrate that it can take many years for a union to financially recover from such an assault.

4 – Launched a major politically motivated attack in the HMRC group. As exposed in the now infamous “Excom” leaked document HMRC management have embarked on “an enemy within” type union-busting campaign which includes: – refusing to negotiate unless the union drops all rights to challenge or even disagree with their job cuts and office closure programme; the removal of facilities from reps generally but with the group’s leadership specially targeted; the setting up of a staff association i.e., a scab union (with HMRC senior management directly working with an ex-PCS activist who was barred from holding office for three years by the union for trying to have fellow activists disciplined or even sacked by management}.

5 – The Home Office hysterical over-reaction to a survey on staffing shortages by PCS and ITV News by securing a secret injunction against both on the grounds of endangering national security and bizarrely claiming that identifying staff shortages at airports and ports would be useful for terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

6 – Maude is also conducting a drive to divide the union movement. He has already issued a direct instruction UNISON be granted negotiating rights in the civil service. Maude’s aim is to ideologically and materially isolate PCS. He argues he is very happy to work with “responsible” and “pragmatic” union leaders. This view was echoed by some civil service union leaders in an article in Civil Service World that implies PCS had brought these problems on itself by not negotiating “pragmatically” with Maude i.e., giving up jobs, conditions and services without a fight. Maude has also instigated a shady Cabinet Office project “Responsible Trade Unionism” conducted by the same HMRC Human Resources officer who is coordinating the union-busting attack in that department, a clear political initiative designed to destroy effective, campaigning trade unionism in the public sector.

PCS has argued consistently that joint coordinated action across the public sector would defeat austerity or at minimum wrest substantial concessions. In fact PCS’s view that campaigning works and action gets results has been proved true time and again, most recently in preventing the privatisation of Land Registry. In calling for “pragmatism” from “reasonable” union leaders Maude is effectively saying that unions abandon, for all time, the tactic of industrial action – the only sure weapon workers have that is genuinely feared by the employer and the government. The attack on PCS is not just about the survival of PCS but about what type of trade union movement we will have in Britain to defend the public sector and interests of our members and our class. It is also about whether we have a free and independent trade union movement rather than “company” unions whose only purpose is to police members, attack activists and deliver for the employer by stifling campaigning.

NECs response to attacks

The removal of check-off in the DWP group must make it clear to every activist that PCS is now the subject of a vicious politically driven war designed to destroy our union. We are involved in a battle for survival. We will emerge from this stronger and more effectively able to defend jobs, conditions and services but only if we take the hard decisions necessary in a disciplined and unified fashion to ensure we do. The Democracy Alliance National Executive Committee has responded to these attacks by prioritising the drive to sign up as many members to Direct Debit as possible. No union facing this attack has ever achieved the sign-up rates PCS has. But we must accept in the short to medium term damage will be done and our key responsibility must be to secure the survival of our union.

Job Cuts and the removal of check-off will reduce the union’s finances by as much as £6.5 million. A number of financial and organisational measures have been taken. And further hard decisions will need to be made, including a considerable reduction of PCS staff over the coming period. These initiatives are clearly about ensuring survival in the face of this unprecedented attack but are also designed to ensure that in the best condition to deliver for members. In this regard the sale of the Clapham headquarters is not about acquiring a sum of money to be squandered on short term spending but ensuring the union’s long term survival and viability. In any case, the sale of the building will not be completely settled until well into 2015.

Difficult but necessary decision

The most difficult and controversial measure the national executive committee has, with great reluctance, to take, has been to cancel the national and group elections for one year only. Events are moving at pace and while the January national executive committee was due to discuss further measures it was recognised it would not have been right to allow branches to go ahead with planning on the basis of the elections going ahead, so a special NEC was called.

PCS is one of only two major unions to hold annual elections, part of the democratic member-led tradition which has been established under the current left leadership of PCS This decision has been taken for two principal reasons: –

1 – The elections cost upwards of £600,000. It is clear such an enormous sum simply must be examined. This is an emergency situation, forced upon the union and which has created the most dangerous and exceptional circumstances. It inconceivable any genuinely responsible and serious leadership, committed and determined to ensure the survival of the union, could do other than take this decision.

2 – The very clear need to concentrate all the resources of PCS – not just financial – but its most precious resources – its members, activists and full time staff to devote their entire energies and concentration on delivering the maximum sign-up to Direct Debit to ensure the survival of our union.

Either of these imperatives would justify the decision to suspend the elections for one year only, together they constitute an unarguable case. This decision was not taken by the most committed, democratic, campaigning leadership in the trade union movement because other easier more palatable decisions were available. On the contrary this decision was made not because the national leadership wanted to make it. But because it had to make it – in order to ensure the union’s survival. The decision was also made within the context of an absolutely clear commitment to yearly elections. 2015 national conference, to be held on the same basis as 2014 conference, will have the opportunity to endorse or reject this decision.

Left Unity is absolutely clear that the decision was the only one that could have been taken in the circumstances. The highest possible standards that have been set by the Democracy Alliance national executive has its roots in many decades of struggle to secure the greatest possible democracy for our union. On merger PCS had two-yearly elections and conferences. It was Left Unity, including all the members of the current PCS leadership active at the time, that fought against the right wing to secure annual elections and conferences. Securing national elections was not just won by votes at conference alone. Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich went to exceptional personal risk in fighting for the right in the High Court, including risking the loss of their own homes.

PCS members will understand and support this decision when it is honestly explained – so too will PCS activists. Right wing opponents of the national executive will attack the decision. Their history in resisting the democratisation of our union and its predecessors will expose their criticism for what it is – shameless hypocrisy. PCS must survive PCS is facing the greatest crisis of its existence. There is no doubt this vicious attack can be defeated but only on the basis of arming activists and members with an honest assessment of its scale of the attack and carrying out the hard decisions intended to defend our union against this attempt to destroy it. PCS’s leadership does not expect blind loyalty or support but it is a matter of indisputable record that no leadership in our movement has fought harder or given greater priority to building an effective, democratic, inclusive, campaigning union – the very reason the Tories want to destroy it. The reality is this. We are confident we can defeat this attempt to break our union but if we take the necessary measures outlined here. To fail to do so would threaten the future of our union. And that would be a real betrayal of union democracy.

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PCS Left Unity: HMRC Union busting plans revealed


PCSLU.jpgRecent events in the R&C group have now been put into perspective after PCS obtained a copy of a leaked document that outlines HMRCs plans for dealing with the union. Attached is a leaflet that comrades should use to advertise this politically motivated attack.

Members in the R&C group have been in a long running dispute over jobs, office closures and performance management. The latest phase has seen members take strike action in June, July & August supported by an overtime ban.

During this time HMRC were reluctant to offer any meetings other than those to which unions have a statutory right. This has meant that good faith industrial relations in the Department had in reality been deteriorating for some time.
However, they were forced into negotiations and PCS agreed to suspend industrial action as an act of good faith while talks took place.

R&C group negotiators believed good progress was being made and were expecting an offer on job security and performance management at a meeting planned for 28 October. However at that meeting management walked out offering a spurious excuse that PCS had breached trust by reporting, in an article in the groups journal (Oracle), that an eleventh hour decision to find jobs for 39 staff in Dundee who were prepared to take strike action was a victory.

PCS HMRC members have taken industrial action to defend jobs, something the employer is using every tool at its disposal to prevent

Furthermore, following HMRCs withdrawal from talks a number of senior reps in the R&C group received letters from HR stating that they had exhausted their facility time for the current accounting period and would not be allowed to carry out any more union duties until after April 2015, this despite showing the opposite in their facilities returns.

Leaked document
It now transpires that this has been a deliberate, secret and political attempt to destabilise PCS.

The document in PCS possession states HMRC’s senior management believes its “business interests” are best served by an approach that “reduces the influence of the unions”. It sets out three options including pursuing an active strategy to diminish the influence of PCS activists and sets out a range of measures to achieve this including:

  • further reduction of facility time from key PCS office holders
  • exploration of encouraging HMRC employees away from PCS representation, including but not limited to other workable (more progressive) alliances and potentially establishment of direct consultative employee forum arrangements starting in those areas were PCS membership is low.
  • Proactive targeting of union communications to better represent the facts, delivered through face to face conversation rather than tit for tat written material.
  • Isolation of PCSs leadership from all but statutory required discussion with HMRC.

PCS is one of only a handful of unions that has consistently opposed and fought against the attacks by consecutive governments so it will come as no surprise to those on the left that these tactics are being used by the establishment to try and break us.

Thatcher and the coal board used the same strategy to destroy the mining industry, encouraging miners to join the scab union UDM before even the mines they controlled were closed. We now also have evidence that HMRC have met with representatives from a newly formed staff association which can only be seen as the start of an attempt to divide and rule staff in HMRC.

This isn’t the first time these individuals in HMRC have used these tactics in the civil service.

Lin Homer (HMRC Chief Executive), William Hague (HMRC Chief People Officer) and Joe Dugdale (HMRC HR Director) are the ExCom mangers driving this process and have form for exactly the same type of behaviour from their time at the Home Office. PCS stood firm in the face of their hostility there – and we have to do the same now that HMRC has inherited the problem.

Our Response
These attacks should not be seen in isolation or as a R&C group problem. It is a very clear political threat that not only affects the rest of PCS but also the whole of the trade union movement.

The national union as a key role to play working with the R&C group and a response should also come from the TUC and the whole labour movement who should condemn the actions in HMRC and insist that politicians address why HMRC are concentrating their efforts and resources on a union busting strategy rather than focusing on closing the £120 billion tax gap.

HMRC have indicated their intention to end check off and the timetable is likely to be the same as the DWPs. This means after March 2015 PCSs ability to effectively organise and fight against an increasingly hostile employer will seriously diminish unless these two largest groups in the union are able to sign the majority of their current members up to Direct Debit.

The R&C GEC have a long term plan in place and are currently arranging car park meetings and getting the message out about this orchestrated plot to undermine a union. Left Unity comrades should help and assist in any way they can it is crucial that every member is informed of the vicious attack.

The paper makes it clear that there is a clear political strategy to push through this government’s highly damaging agenda for the civil service and that only PCS stands in their way.

Although PCS are committed to finding a negotiated settlement HMRC want a compliant workforce that is hoodwinked by the “Building our Future” process and bullied by the current PMR process in to thinking their way.

Building the membership and signing people up to Direct Debit should now be a priority so that we can send a clear message to management that we will not be bullied this way and we will stand up, face and fight against this type of intimidation by what is becoming an increasingly brutal employer.

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Re-elect Mark Serwortka

UK - Strike & Demonstration - Public Sector workers
The nomination process for the general secretary elections has now begun! Mark Serwotka has led the way as General Secretary of the PCS in building a democratic, campaigning union that has fought hard to defend members interests and public services. More than that, PCS has argued for an alternative to cuts, privatisation and austerity and been at the forefront of the TUC pushing for coordinated action to fight across the whole public sector. 

Left Unity is strongly urging that we continue to support Mark and ask that you nominate him at your branch general meetings, publicise the elections with your members and help campaign to ensure PCS remains a left led trade union. Election leaflets are also available to send out to members both electronic and physically.

If your branch hasn’t already organised a meeting to discuss the general secretary’s elections, please do so ASAP. Nominations need to be in by Thursday 23 October.

Mark is standing on a platform to continue to:

  • Fight for fair pay
  • Build joint action between trade unions, in both the private and public sectors
  • Negotiate hard with the government and employers, but stand ready to take action should they refuse to meet our demands
  • Organise against the cuts in facility time and threats to check-off.
  • Fight the victimisation of reps
  • Give full support to all members taking action against cuts
  • Campaign against the privatisation of our public services
  • Stand against the rise in prejudice, racism and all forms of discrimination
  • Build our union organisation in the private sector
  • Continue discussions with other unions on all options for strengthening the fightback, including merger
  • Campaign to defend the welfare state and for the PCS alternative to austerity

 The ballot for General Secretary will open on 20 November and close on 11 December.

 If you can help in his campaign and/or make a donation to his campaign fund please visit http://reelectmarkserwotka.nationbuilder.com/

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PCS LU on why you should vote YES to an independent Scotland

The Left Unity led PCS has done more than other unions to give its members a real chance to engage in the debate around the Scottish Independence Referendum. PCS has placed our “Alternative to Austerity” and our demands on jobs and conditions at the heart of our activity. Members have repeatedly told us that what they want above all else are high quality public services. It is precisely this issue – what kind of Scotland we want to live in – which is right at the heart of the debate.

Download the full PCS LU Scottish Referendum material here to distribute in your branches.

The referendum has generated a huge debate and is involving lots of people in politics for the first time. Many of them are PCS members, promoting the PCS Alternatives on the economy, welfare and the future of public services.

PCS Left Unity is strongly recommending that you vote YES. All the main Westminster parties, including Labour, are committed to austerity – the failed policies of cuts and privatisation that is destroying jobs, conditions and services and means a brutal dependency on foodbanks for many. Better Together only offers more of the same.

The SNP white paper “Scotland’s Future” doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t offer the socialist society we would like to see.  However it does offer a vision of a more progressive Scotland.  While supporting a YES vote we campaign for the policies that can secure a more fair and equal Scotland:

  • Fair pay and pensions
  • No privatisation: nationalisation of essential services and of banks
  • Council housing and investment in renewable energy
  • Repeal of the anti-trade union laws
  • Progressive taxation where all pay their fair share
  • A welfare system and National Health Service based on need

PCS Left Unity fully supports the right of the Scottish people to self-determination. We reject the idea that the referendum is about narrow nationalism, which it is not.  It is about democracy, and the legitimate wish of the people to decide their own political destiny.  It isn’t about the SNP, nor indeed about any one political party, but about the future governance of Scotland.  We will finally have the ability to elect a Parliament with full powers. We will finally be able to support candidates who will fight for the kind of socially just, fair and more equal Scotland we all want to live in, instead of one where even the provision of the most basic necessities is at risk.

“PCS has achieved significant gains for members in Scottish departments.  We have won a no-compulsory redundancy guarantee, with a public promise from the First Minister (FM) and Deputy FM to extend this to all Scottish civil servants following a YES vote.  We have defended reps facility time, secured a living wage for civil servants and a better deal on pay than that offered by Westminster.  With independence we could achieve so much more.  This is why I’m voting YES, and encouraging PCS members to vote YES” 

Cheryl Gedling PCS NEC, p/c

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Taking up the Fight in DWP

Fran HFollowing the re-election of a 100% Left Unity DWP GEC this year, at our group conference in May, delegates voted overwhelmingly to support the Left Unity motion EM5 which identified a range of DWP-specific issues where we now have the potential for a dispute with the employer and committed the incoming GEC to a campaign plan.

Members are clear that they’ve had enough of being under-valued and underpaid. Low pay, heath and safety, Attendance Management, Performance Management, compulsory postings, threats to discontinue the AA grade, threats of compulsory redundancy and the threat of privatisation are just some of the many serious issues facing members in DWP.

Pointless staff transfers, compulsory relocations and continued examples of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ shows the desperate need for more staff in DWP Operations. Over recent months PCS has reported more and more enforced moves from one part of the business to the other, then back again, wasting resource on retraining then moving staff again and again around the business in a clear case of panic management.

DWP describe some of these moves as ‘simple lift and drop exercises’. Left Unity negotiators have repeatedly argued that you cannot lift and drop our members and we will not accept it.

Unjustified closures like the one which has led to the dispute at Garston, highlight the nonsense of DWP’s resourcing strategies and the adverse impact that they have on our members’ lives.

The lack of proper consultation in some areas of DWP could lead us quickly into dispute over a range of ongoing health and safety concerns in our jobcentres, as tory policies on conditionality and sanctions become more harsh, and our claimants become more desperate, due to the very real threat of imposed destitution, it is only a matter of time before the increase in violent incidents we are experiencing, leads to someone being serious hurt or worse.

We see continued attacks on our members and the public alike, dressed up as ‘welfare reform’, which in reality, punish the poor for having the audacity to rely on social security.

If the government can persuade the public to accept, through constant villification and humiliation in the media, that the poor are responsible for their own conditions and are to blame for the situation that they find themselves in, then they can continue to drive through cuts and remove support, as demonstrated by the increased reliance on foodbanks and payday loan companies.

As socialists, we defend the welfare state. Left Unity policy is to fight for our members jobs and conditions certainly, but we also believe that it is fundamentally wrong to seek to make a profit out of the poorest and most vulnerable. That is why this government hate us and that is why we have to campaign to defend the sort of society we want to live in.

Privatisation is a massive threat to PCS members. Left Unity opposes all attempts to privatise our work. In November the government handed over DWP shared services to Steria, a company they own a 25% share in. By the spring members in 3 of the privatised sites, many long-serving civil servants, were told that they now face the dole queue.

Steria will offshore the work and have already employed the staff in unregulated countries abroad.This means our personal data, and that of MPs and ministers, will be handled there instead. We will challenge every proposed privatisation and our colleagues in shared services, Steria employees for now, are a stark reminder of why we need to.

We have a huge campaign agenda ahead of us but, working closely with the Left Unity leadership of the national union, PCS members are fiercely determined to stand together to exert the maximum pressure on DWP and the government to engage, make concessions and make DWP a decent place to work.

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Left Unity leading the fight back in Group campaigns

In groups across the union, Left Unity is at the forefront of organising and campaigning to fight back against austerity. Leading Left Unity members give updates from their groups not only on what we’re fighting against but how we can win.

Lorna MerryLorna Merry, HMRC Group President
In the HMRC Group, members walked out for the third time in 6 weeks in support of the jobs and staffing campaign. In the run up to the action, HMRC management refused to meet PCS and issued a series of messages to staff attacking PCS and pleading with members to break the strike. Their attempts to undermine the union backfired as members rightly saw their increasing desperation as an admission that PCS action was having an impact. The campaign continues with action short of strike.

Austin Harney, MoJ Group Member
PCS members had a one day strike on 30th June in Newport and Bootle, “work to rule” and solid picket lines against MoJ Shared Services’s plans to outsource, and probably, offshore most of the jobs to India. It boosted more recruits and closed the Bootle office! As the employer is not listening, there was an overall six days of further action since July 24th. It is a tough battle but these PCS members are serious!”

Eleanor Haven, Land Registry Group Member Elenor Haven
PCS in Land Registry has recently won some major concessions for our members. We have run a high profile campaign against the proposals to effectively privatise the agency; gaining the support not just of our members but also of industry professionals, campaigning organisations and cross party support in parliament.
As a result of our campaigning the proposals to privatise Land Registry have been shelved for at least the next year or two. PCS has also recently won an important Employment Tribunal on the contractual right of our members to pay progression.

Lawrence Dunn, Home Group Assistant Secretary
In the Passport Office, members are embroiled in a high profile campaign to fix the staffing problems which have caused massive backlogs this Summer and end HMPO’s status as the poorest paying member of the Home Office “family”.
Members participated in well supported strike action on July 28th which, despite the usual bluster and hand wringing from the Government and the sections of the media, received widespread support from members of the public who visited the various Passport Office’s on the day of the action.
The campaign continues and Left Unity members are leading on consulting members on an escalation over the coming months to tie in with the union’s targeted action strategy.

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Check off & the fight to defend our union

Fran picFran Heathcote, PCS DWP Group President and National Left Unity Organiser, explains the real motivation behind the threat to withdraw check off and how Left Unity within the Democracy Alliance NEC is fighting back

In an openly political attack on PCS, Francis Maude has told government departments that the age-old method of collecting union subs through salary, known as check-off, is “no longer desirable”.

PCS defends the right to check-off, an internationally recognised trade union right. PCS has offered to pay the cost of retaining check-off, which is a negligible amount. Withdrawal without sufficient notice and full access to members will be nothing more than union busting.PCS will oppose such union-busting with all appropriate means, including legal action where necessary.

There is clearly a political divide on this issue within government. The Tories remain committed to withdrawing check-off, hiding behind the story that it is for departments to decide, not them, whilst Maude bullies them into doing it anyway.The Lib Dems however, say that they are against the government proposal to withdraw check-off.

In the run up to the general election, this issue must be raised with all the main parties to expose the real motivation behind the government’s attack and secure commitments on trade union rights.

The Democracy Alliance NEC have agreed all members will be asked to make the switch to direct debit by April 2015. This is a huge challenge for every rep and activist in PCS and all groups are being asked to treat this work as their number one priority. There can be no exemptions – however, important personal cases, negotiations and day to day business is, all become academic if we have no members.

We must not allow this attack to severely impact on PCS’s ability to function, which is exactly what Maude wants. That is why we have to make this the responsibility of every rep and activist in PCS.

No excuses, no delay, ask every member to switch today – your union depends on it.

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Left Unity is a faction within the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) that is represented at every level of the union, from branches and workplaces to the National Executive Committee. We believe in a democratic and fighting union and have a proud history within PCS and its predecessor unions in delivering for members.

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