The campaign to re-elect Mark Serwotka as general secretary of PCS is well underway with leafleting taking place at workplaces across the country.
The re-election of Mark has never been so important at this stage together with the need to build a union that can meet the many challenges we will face in the years ahead.
PCS has faced twenty years of government attacks on jobs, services and conditions. Despite the hostile climate, Mark Serwotka and the PCS leadership, together with its activists and members have proudly fought back against every attack. Mark’s challengers in this election have attempted to lay the blame for the government’s attacks on him personally. Nothing could be further from the truth, as his record shows.
PCS conference has agreed a policy to fight for a Corbyn-led Labour government, based on policies that reflect those of the union itself, including a return to national pay bargaining and increases in staffing and resources. In the middle of this general election, the union leadership - including Mark - has vigorously pursued PCS conference policy.
However, Serwotka’s opponents have attacked him for this. The Independent Left candidate Bev Laidlaw, states that Mark should not rely on “personal friendships of individuals in the Labour Party to get our way”, but “should seek concrete policy agreements.” This completely ignores the successful work undertaken by PCS to positively influence Labour Party policy, not by “friendship”, but “policy agreement”. Despite this, there is no call for the election of a Labour government in Laidlaw’s statement!
This muddle is however trumped by Marion Lloyd, candidate of the Socialist Party, who says “Mark Serwotka has placed his personal loyalty to the Labour Party above members wishes.” She pledges to keep the union “politically independent”.
This is clearly a shameful attempt to appeal to the more conservative, non-political layers of the union, the same layers that the right-wing so-called Moderate grouping rested upon in the past. This is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
It deliberately obscures the fact that supporting Corbyn is simply carrying out the democratically decided conference policy of PCS. The NEC of the union (of which Marion Lloyd is a member) agreed to call for a Labour vote in England and Wales, with separate arrangements in Scotland (Vote To Get The Tories Out) and Northern Ireland. There was not a single vote against this proposal.
While Lloyd says she believes “a Corbyn government would improve our pay and conditions.” she goes on to say: “But my opponents in this election have got it badly wrong by telling you to vote for all Labour candidates in England and Wales. We should not support MPs who have attacked our jobs and conditions.”
She is therefore not in favour of voting Labour, but in PCS members voting for some and not others. In other words, where there is a straight vote in a constituency between Labour and Tory, according to Marion Lloyd, you might not vote, depending on the Labour candidate’s record. But a child of six can see that could mean a Tory victory!
To advocate in this general election a policy of selective abstention against Labour is to help secure a Boris Johnson government. This is where the sectarian policy of the so-called Socialist Party, to which Marion belongs, leads. They are simply putting their sectarian interests above the interests of the working class as a whole. How such a criminal policy will “help” a Corbyn-led government is simply beyond us.
Marion Lloyd and the SP are undermining PCS policy and risking the re-election of a Tory government for their own narrow political advantage.
In contrast, Mark Serwotka has remained true to his principles. It has been PCS under Mark’s leadership that has engaged with the Labour front bench to achieve a number of key policy pledges that lay the basis for the union to fully exploit a Labour victory for our hard pressed members.
Over the years Mark has taken the lead on all national civil service negotiations on pay, pensions and the compensation scheme with the Cabinet Office. He led the TUC’s negotiating team in securing the public sector pensions deal from the government and led the negotiations which secured the National Protocols on civil service redundancy avoidance. He also led the negotiation with DWP which secured £3 million in compensation for the removal of check-off.
Socialist Appeal is determined to keep the union on its left-wing path. Part of this is to secure the re-election of Mark Serwotka.