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From: The Socialist issue 1095, 15 July 2020: Fight for safety - stop the jobs massacre

Search site for keywords: PCS - Union - Democracy - Elections

PCS executive majority cancels union democracy

PCS strike in 2013, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS strike in 2013, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Semple, PCS union national executive committee (personal capacity)

At its meeting on 8 July, the controlling majority of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) National Executive Committee rejected moves to resume this year's union elections. The proposal from the Broad Left Network - the left group in PCS supported by Socialist Party members - would have restarted the elections in August.

PCS holds elections annually for president, vice-presidents and national executive committee. But arrangements for the 2020 elections were suspended part-way through March this year.

The elections, which are by postal ballot, could have gone ahead at that time. Socialist Party members argued in favour of this and suggested extending the ballot period by a month to allow for postal delays during the pandemic.

The decision to suspend the elections was taken by the Left Unity (Socialist View/SWP) majority bloc on the executive, which argued it was impractical to hold ballots during the pandemic, but said it would keep the situation 'under review'.

Astonishingly, Left Unity's justification for now entirely cancelling the elections ranged from 'there are many different ways of engaging with members other than elections' to 'members are not knocking at our door demanding elections'!

The executive's decision to keep itself in office without elections is as shameful as it is unsurprising. Its failure on the 2020 pay campaign; the refusal to lead a collective response to the health and safety threats faced by members during the Covid pandemic; and the continued drop in union membership, is a record not easy to defend. Why would it want elections!

At the same executive meeting, the Left Unity majority rejected a Broad Left Network amendment to a Trade Union Congress motion: "To defend jobs and communities [by taking] into public ownership companies that threaten mass redundancies and closures." Rejecting such a basic workers' demand exposes the hollowness of any claim they might have to be a 'left campaigning organisation'.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 15 July 2020

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Sparks' protest in Cardiff; each week the protest has grown. Sparks are protesting nationally against the role of construction electricians being deskilled. Photo by Rachel Barwell

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