Above: Mark Serwotka
By James Marine (at the Workers Liberty website)
The Socialist Party (SP) has defended the PCS civil service union’s decision to “suspend” national and Group elections for up to a year. (Groups are the major sub-parts of the union.)
The SP headlined its article: “PCS: Safeguarding its future in the face of vicious Tory attacks”.
“Faced with a temporary but very sharp drop in income as a result of check-off ending, the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) has had to make difficult decisions to cut expenditure, including suspending for one year the union’s annual elections”.
This is nonsense. Yes, the PCS is facing a financial tough time but not so bad that it cannot afford elections. (Even Greece can afford to vote).
The elections would cost about £650,000 to run yet the union’s magazine costs £700,000 a year to produce. Instead of putting that publication online for a year, the NEC choose to keep it whilst dumping elections.
Then there are full time officer wages. PCS is being colonised by SP members. If they lived up the SP’s policy of full time officers (FTOs) being paid a workers’ wage, then we could “afford” democracy.
The union is selling its headquarters for £25 million. A big chunk of that will plug the hole in one of the union’s pension schemes. Yet there will be more than enough left over to run several elections, let alone just one this year.
Our affiliation to the TUC costs nearly £650,000. In a choice between members having a vote on who represents them or paying hundreds of thousands to the TUC and subsidising Francis O’Grady’s lifestyle, having a vote wins hands down.
In other words there are plenty of ways to afford democracy but the SP doesn’t want them.
By suspending the elections the SP using a real crisis to avoid being judged by the members. There is a good chance this year that the SP would lose seats on the Executive. That could mean putting a proposed merger with Unite in danger.
The Socialist Party and PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, must be condemned across the labour movement. Their actions are disgraceful. If the right wing did this then there would be howls of indignation from the left; because it is Mark Serwotka [known as a leftist and presently in very poor health – JD], the criticism is muted at best. The SP, and Mark Serwotka, have crossed a fundamental line and must be held to account.
But course the best method of accounting, national elections, has been denied members for the time being. When the time comes, then the SP and Mark Serwotka must be driven out of office.
Addendum: in a further article in The Socialist, John McInally (PCS vice president and Socialist Party member) launches into what can only be described as a near-hysterical rant against Unison and critics on the left. At one point (towards the end of the piece) McInally even compares PCS’s refusal to hold elections with the NUM’s decision not to ballot its members in 1984 – a ludicrous comparison with a union that (rightly or wrongly) took a tactical decision in the heat of a major industrial dispute. It’s bizarre, desperate stuff that may well be a sign that the SP feels under pressure – maybe from some within its own ranks – JD