pcs at the crossroads?

by Steve Ryan

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS ) is currently balloting in a general secretary election. The union is one of the biggest in the TUC and seen as a left led bastion of militancy.

At first sight the elections seem unremarkable: the left poster boy Mark Serwotka is standing as the incumbent against only one opponent, Rob Bryson, who is standing in a last ditch effort by the  rump of the old Reamsbottom-led right wing ‘Moderate’ group. Continue reading “pcs at the crossroads?”

pcs: vote for moloney – but independent rank and file action is the key

by Chris Kane

National elections are underway in the civil service trade union PCS.  In a twist of history an independent left candidate of rank and filist politics is standing against Hugh Lanning, for Deputy General Secretary.   In 2000 the same Hugh Lanning was the candidate defeated by the then independent left candidate Mark Serwotka for General Secretary.   Then the Trotskyist Socialist Party backed Lanning against Serwotka, demanding a re-count when he won!   Today, the Socialist Party are again backing Lanning.

Hugh Lanning is painted as some kind of left candidate who stands up for workers – in reality he is a fake-left rightwing bureaucrat who should have been dumped when the old CPSA moderate group were defeated.  The current hierarchy of the PCS – for all the militant language has failed to match the bosses’ offensive in the civil service with an effective strategy.  Some of the leadership are simply politically bankrupt, careerist opportunists or both.  Aloof and out of touch they are more at home with on a committee or with management than amongst the members.  Much of the responsibility for what has gone wrong in PCS in the years since Serwotka’s victory has been the failure to build an effective rank and file movement and the bureaucratic antics of the Socialist Party, who have little resemblance even to their Socialist Party comrades outside of the Civil Service.    Continue reading “pcs: vote for moloney – but independent rank and file action is the key”

bulletin for january 10th rmt conference on “the crisis in working-class political representation”

On January 10th the RMT is holding a conference on “the crisis in working class political representation”. Three years after staging a similar conference – and after three years in which no progress has been made – the union leadership is carrying out some of ‘the letter’ of its conference policy to set up workers’ representation committees, although the event on Saturday will have no motions, votes or powers to make decisions. Nevertheless it should provide a forum for discussing the question of where left electoral initiatives have gone wrong and what we can do next.

We will be distributing a bulletin arguing that saying  “shall the unions stay in the Labour Party or set up a new party [a Labour Party Mk II]?” is asking the wrong question. We do not want either, but a wholesale reorganisation of the trade unions and an end to the rigid separation between workplace activism and Parliamentary/electoral politics which characterises so much of the history of the British labour movement. Click here for a pdf of the bulletin.


The event takes place from 11am to 3pm at Friends’ Meeting House near Euston Station. Speakers include Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka and John McDonnell – register at www.rmt.org.uk

pcs leadership calls off action over pay

by Steve Ryan, Wrexham PCS

As predicted in the commune the “Left” PCS union has now called off its planned industrial action over pay.

Whilst details are sketchy it seems that the NEC is claiming victory even though they appear not to have achieved any of their aims, most significantly an above-inflation pay rise for all and the de-coupling of progression costs from pay.

Any gains seem to have come from “recyclables”, which, ironically, predominantly stem from job cuts and office closures!

This is a real setback. PCS had a major opportunity to take on the government over the economy and force real concessions at this time of crisis. And it comes hard and fast after the failure of the “Left” NUT to call action. Members were again led to the top of the hill and then left there. This could, and will, be seen as a defeat if not capitulation by what is purportedly one of the most left wing unions. It will send signals to reactionary and conservative forces – but mostly to workers that gains cannot be won.

The answer in PCS is to begin the ardous task of building a rank and file to challenge the leadership and hold them to account – or by-pass them! This in turn should reach out across all unions to build a strong bottom-up organisation that is not just an electoral machine but is genuinely based on fighting for the interests of workers everywhere. There should be total opposition to all job losses, closures and pay freezes, make the bosses pay. Where possible threatened factories, offices etc. should be occupied under workers’ self-management.