Left Unity responds to last minute right wing candidate

Lynda Priestly, the current right wing HMRC group president, last week announced that she was “fed up” with the current PCS leadership and had decided to stand for Assistant General Secretary against the Democracy Alliance candidate and Left Unity incumbent Chris Baugh. This was followed by an attack against the PCS leadership, Left Unity and the democratic decisions made by reps & members at conference, ballots and consultations.

What Lynda Priestly doesn’t tell you is she:

–       Supports Government austerity and cuts, describing it as “Done properly and fairly, it’s one few can argue against in the current climate”
–       Offers no alternative strategy or campaign on how to defend member’s jobs, pay and terms & conditions
–       As HMRC Group President tried to block campaigns on key member’s issues, such as the threat of job losses
–       Says nothing on what she will campaign for if elected, choosing instead to claim the current leadership is simply “unrepresentative”

Chris Baugh

Chris Baugh standing for a fighting, member led union

In response to the attack, Left Unity has produced the below statement, that can also be downloaded in full as a leaflet for distribution here.

In comparison to the right wing, the Democracy Alliance candidate, Chris Baugh, has a proven track record of fighting for members and being at the forefront of campaigning (check out Chris’s election page here) on issues from compulsory redundancies to defending victimised reps.

Left Unity asks that you nominate Chris Baugh for Assistant General Secretary and support the Democracy Alliance National Executive slate, for a fighting, member-led PCS.





Chris Baugh is the Democracy Alliance candidate for Assistant General Secretary (AGS) a post he currently holds. He is part of the team, with Mark Serwotka (General Secretary) and Janice Godrich (National President), who have built PCS into a union that fights for your interests wherever you work.

Chris Baugh is seeking re-election as AGS but Lynda Priestley has decided to oppose him. This leaflet is a response to Lynda Priestley’s declaration and explains why we do not believe Branches should nominate her.

Chris is as an activist with over 30 years’ experience, he knows first-hand the issues facing members and reps in the workplace and is a experienced, strong, and skilful negotiator. Chris has wide support from union reps across PCS. He has consistently shown leadership, commitment and support when members are forced to campaign and take action in defence of their interests at work. Chris has played an important part in winning gains for members, not least on protecting jobs against compulsory redundancy. In his term as AGS Chris has also contributed regularly to the unions campaign fund and donated a day’s salary each time PCS members take national strike action.

Chris’s priorities are  –

  • Fighting for fair pay and pensions
  • Fight for the widest alliance amongst public sector trade unions to defeat the pay freeze and attacks on
    services and jobs
  • Oppose all privatisation and off-shoring
  • Ensure the full weight of the union is used to defend any member threatened with compulsory redundancy
  • Oppose the discredited Performance Management and punitive sickness absence policies that have created such stressful conditions in the workplace. I will continue to direct support and resources to members targeted and lead a national fight for a fair and healthy work environment
  • Will fight to win permanent jobs and oppose fixed term and zero hours contracts. I will continue to challenge a two-tier workforce
  • Lead and build a national campaign to establish decent standards in every contact centre where PCS members are employed
  • Continue to fight discrimination. Build on the good work already done to build equality and inclusion.

Last minute right wing candidate emerges

Late in the day a right wing opponent has emerged seeking branch nominations. Lynda Priestly, the current right wing HMRC group president declared last week on a right wing blog that she had decided over the Christmas Holidays that she was “fed up” with the current PCS leadership and had decided to stand. Lynda, who has never been a national elected rep, used her announcement to launch an extraordinary attack on her own union.

Lynda says she is “fed up” with the current leadership but offers not one single policy alternative the policies your union leadership are implementing and fails to mention that the policy of PCS, as decided at your conference and at the national executive itself, have been fully supported and voted for by her allies.

Her announcement to stand does not contain one policy issue and she completely silent on how the union should deal with the difficult issues facing members and reps. It is a statement entirely devoid of any commitments or anything positive. It does not contain one policy issue, one pledge, one priority, one workplace issue. She fails to offer any leadership or answers to how the union should deal with the difficult issues facing members and reps in their workplaces every day. Just as she failed to offer any tangible support to campaigns in her own Group to save workplace nurseries, fight the closure of enquiry centres or to protect low paid members on fixed term contracts from redundancy

While Lynda attacks hardworking PCS reps, attacks staff of the union and PCS democracy, the only people who escape attack are the government and the employer – the very people responsible for the attacks on members and the union.

One could be mistaken for thinking that she doesn’t have a strategy for opposing this Government and their ongoing attacks on our members, but her regular group presidents column suggests that her failure to offer a meaningful opposition stems more from her agreement with the Tories economic analysis, and a belief that Trades Unions should collaborate with employers in cooperation and partnership, regardless of the attacks that they pursue against our members.

On the Government’s cuts agenda, Lynda says that “Austerity is an interesting concept, framed as a solution for economic instability. Done properly and fairly, it’s one few can argue against in the current climate”. PCS campaigns against Austerity because it is economically illiterate, divisive, damaging to public services and damaging to our members. The PCS alternative, developed by this Democracy Alliance leadership has drawn widespread support from across the trade union movement and beyond for an economic alternative to austerity based on investment, public sector spending, job creation and fair taxation.

Lynda claims without offering any evidence that union finances are “far from healthy “This is at best an attempt to mislead union members and undermine confidence in the union. In a period where membership has fallen, entirely due to civil service cuts, the skilful stewardship of union finances by AGS Chris Baugh and the national executive has meant the books not only balance but are expected to be in surplus. This has enabled PCS to fund all of our branches, regions and groups, escalating legal costs and personal case costs to represent members and our vital campaigns on the issues that matter to members.

There are thousands of planned job cuts in HMRC, as a high grade civil servant whose job is to implement the department’s transformation strategy Lynda should know the seriousness of this issue. Yet she has sought to prevent the HMRC GEC discussing a response to this major attack on members’ jobs. She had to be forced to even call a meeting by the pressure of Left Unity GEC members exercising their right under standing orders.

It is also regrettable that Lynda, a group president, seeks to use government’s attacks on the check-off facility as an opportunity to attack her own union. The threat to check off is a political attack on an internationally recognised union by a vengeful government. Her claim it was “hardly a bolt from the blue”, that the union didn’t plan ahead and “buried its collective head in the sand” is simply not true. Plans to move to direct debit were advanced following democratic agreement across the whole union. The quick response by the union to this threat has been met with praise and determination by reps and members alike. Members would expect someone who seeks high office in PCS to be more in touch.

Any serious candidate seeking to stand for high office needs to demonstrate a proven track record and a vision for the union. – she appears to have demonstrated neither. PCS members will rightly demand far higher standards from their AGS than what is contained in her brief proclamation. She says it’s time for a change but in reality she hankers for a return to the days of right-wing control when the union bowed before the employer and left reps and members vulnerable.

The Democracy Alliance NEC and Chris Baugh who is supported by the Democracy Alliance have always been open and honest with members and reps. Chris is part of a team that has built a union of vibrant confident reps, a union that respects conference policy and union democracy and has challenged austerity policies and fought for tax justice and defended jobs and public services.  We have debated our ideas openly in the union and at conference with a  respect for alternative views, however Lynda Priestly, by her lack of vision, lack of policies and lack of respect for union democracy cannot provide the strong, clear and democratic leadership PCS members need and deserve.

Please nominate Chris Baugh for Assistant General Secretary, Janice Godrich for National President  and  the Democracy Alliance NEC candidates – full details of which can be found at :  www.leftunity.org.uk            www.pcsdemocrats.org.uk

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One comment on “Left Unity responds to last minute right wing candidate
  1. Pete Mason says:

    see short video appealing for support from chris, janice, and others standing as part of left unity on youtube http://youtu.be/U4NdX4crsR0