The nomination period for the post of General Secretary in the civil service trade union PCS has now opened. PCS branches should be organising to debate which candidate they wish to support in the actual elections, which will open on 7 November.
Bev Laidlaw, a DWP rank and file activist and NEC member, will be contesting the election as a PCS Independent Left candidate. All serious socialists and PCS activists who yearn for a departure from the many years of failed, bombastic, top down bureaucratic leader leadership should campaign to nominate and vote for Bev.
We should do so taking inspiration from the election earlier this year of the rank and file working class activist John Moloney to the post of Assistant General Secretary, who beat the PCS establishment candidates in the process.
Like John, Bev is committed to refusing the outrageously exorbitant full General Secretary salary and argues for a radical change in the culture and policies of PCS.
Her manifesto states, “The material interests of workers and the employer are… fundamentally opposed. Whilst all who work for the union should earn a wage they can live on, they should not be on amounts which put them closer to the bosses they negotiate with than to the workers they represent.
“As an EO in the DWP…I currently have to claim Universal Credit to supplement my earnings. The amount that I will take for the role of General Secretary will reflect my current income including benefits, and I will return the rest of the current GS salary to the union’s Fighting Fund.”
Bev recognises that the majority of civil servants in 2018 (64%) were paid below £30,000, that nigh on a fifth (19%) were paid under £20,000, and that many of our outsourced members are even lower paid. She does not want to lead the membership while pulling down a boss’ salary from their membership dues.
Bev wants to build an alternative within PCS to the failed PCS Left Unity model – which the Socialist Party wishes to recreate in its newly launched PCS Broad Left.
Bev wants a rank and file movement of members that elects and controls its leadership, a leadership which will live the same lifestyle as the membership. She wants a joined up fight against office closures – opposed by the leadership of PCS – and for national pay rates and national pay bargaining. She wants equality to be at the heart of PCS’ work.
Her PCS establishment opponents in the election will be incumbent General Secretary Mark Serwotka and Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd.
Mark Serwotka pulls in well in excess of £100,000 in salary and benefits from the members – placing him above the pay rates of 99% of civil servants, only earning less than some of the top bosses who run the civil Service.
When supporting Lynn Henderson, another very well paid full time official, against the rank and file candidate John Moloney, Mr Serwotka was very keen to see a woman in high office. But he has no intention of surrendering his wonderfully salaried position to Bev — a rank and file woman with an excellent record within PCS.
Ms Lloyd, who occupies a senior management grade role in the civil service, is insisting that if elected she will “only” take the high salary she already earns as a senior managerial grade – a position quite contrary to the Socialist Party’s propaganda for worker’s representatives on a worker’s wage.
Mr Serwotka and Ms Lloyd are the PCS establishment figures in the election. The election of either one of them means more of the same for members. For sixteen years you could not get a sheet of paper between them as they effectively proclaimed that the Serwotka/Left Unity leadership of PCS – a leadership that has lost the major battles and many of the smaller ones – was the best possible leadership in the trade union movement.
They have fallen out in the unprincipled, courtier, bureaucratic culture of the PCS leadership.
It is time for change: Elect Bev Laidlaw!