PCS members in Bristol demonstrating against the government's pay cap, photo Roger Thomas

PCS members in Bristol demonstrating against the government’s pay cap, photo Roger Thomas   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

PCS elections – Left sweeps the board

Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive committee member and PCS Left Unity chair (personal capacity)

This year’s PCS elections have produced a landslide victory for the Democracy Alliance slate.

Re-elected for the 17th time is Socialist Party member Janice Godrich as national president. All four vice president posts have been taken by Democracy Alliance (DA) candidates, with Socialist Party member Fran Heathcote topping the poll as deputy vice president.

The DA slate completed its election victory by winning 29 of the 30 national executive committee places.

Among those elected are five Socialist Party members, including for the first time Dave Semple, who joins Katrine Williams, John McInally, Marion Lloyd and Mark Baker.

The right wing has collapsed in PCS, offering no candidates in these elections. The ballot decisively rejected the only opposition slate, that of the ultra-left – their single seat on the executive is due to a gap on the DA slate.

This vote is a vote of confidence in Left Unity based on its record and on what it offers taking the union forward.

Pay campaign

The first major challenge the new executive will face comes in the shape of this year’s pay campaign.

The union’s 2018 pay claim for a fully funded increase of 5% (£1,200) and a commitment to centralised bargaining has been rejected by the government.

It has been rejected because the government says its budget expenditure limit is 1% and it expects civil servants’ pay increases to be kept within it.

Talks are ongoing. But if no progress is made we will need to move soon after our conference (22-24 May) to a statutory strike ballot.

Conference is certain to endorse the pay campaign strategy and will in effect be its launching pad for the critical phase we are now entering.

A consultative ballot was won convincingly last November, rejecting the pay cap and supporting action. This demonstrated that a basis exists for winning a statutory ballot.

Critical to securing a ‘Yes’ vote and a 50%-or-more turnout will be the active layer in groups and branches.

A yes vote meeting all the requirements for a statutory ballot can be won. Putting pressure on a weak minority government, split into two warring factions over Brexit, can achieve results.

The mere threat of action has achieved limited gains above the pay cap in other areas of the public sector. Think what might be achievable with coordinated strike action across the public sector.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 15 May 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.