Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

Unite the Union needs a new left

With a resurgent right in the political wing of the labour movement, and a General Secretary election due to take place sooner rather than later in the giant union Unite, recent election results demonstrate the urgent need — and opportunity — for a regroupment of the genuine democratic left in the union. The results of the elections which closed on 18 June for the Executive Council (EC) of Unite were not good for the United Left (UL), once the dominant “Broad Left” in the union. In the 2017 EC elections there were contests in 28 of the constituencies (geographical, industrial, etc.)...

"We need much more organised pressure on Starmer"

Nurse, Unite activist and socialist Mark Boothroyd spoke to Sacha Ismail. What are the most important things for the left to argue and fight for in this crisis? How does the dominant labour movement response measure up? The labour movement needs to campaign for more extensive economic support, to expand the furlough and self-employed schemes, extend them to those not covered and so on. People need to be able to stay home and sustain themselves. Clearly sick pay and the right to self-isolate on fully pay are essential. The level of statutory sick pay is utterly scandalous, it needs to be raised...

Section 44 in the civil service

The National Executive Committee of the Public and Commercial Services union met on 13 May to discuss the union’s position on a potential back-to-work drive. This is an abridged and slighted edited version of a report published by an NEC member and supporter of the Independent Left network. The full version will be published on the Independent Left website. Our Independent Left proposals, built around how to respond in the worst-case scenario of a mass return to work, were as follows. It was broadly agreed that 1, 2, 4 and 5 were covered by the union’s actions and/or overtaken by events. 3...

Sorting out the left in UCU

As UCU members in higher education prepare to strike — action begins on 20 February — voting is underway in both HE and FE sectors of the union for members of the National Executive Committee and a new Vice-President. The VP election sees a contest between the two long-standing union factions, UCU Left (dominated by the SWP) and the Independent Broad Left (on the right). Margot Hill, the left candidate, is Branch Secretary at Croydon College and has recently led local strikes over pay and conditions. Janet Farrar, her opponent, has no such track record. It was a surprise to many activists...

Vote Tracy in the NEU!

The election for the Support Staff sector seat on the executive of the NEU is now running and will close on 2 December. The candidate for the rank-and-file Education Solidarity Network is Workers’ Liberty supporter Tracy McGuire. She is supported by many militant support staff, including the Durham Teaching Assistants’ Value Us campaign. Tracy says: Support staff should be treated as equal citizens in our Union. That means the NEU fighting for the right to represent and negotiate on behalf of our support staff members at every level. The union should campaign for national pay arrangements for...

Three candidates, one rank and file

The election campaign for PCS general secretary has now started, and runs until 12 December. Before it started, the union closed down the members’ Facebook page, leaving only the main union Facebook page, administered by head office staff. That page has churned out a weekly, sometimes daily, stream of videos of the current general secretary, Mark Serwotka, holding forth on various issues. Closing down a potential forum for debate, and using the union’s official platforms for blatant electioneering, do not reflect well on Serwotka’s campaign for re-election. Bev Laidlaw is standing as the...

Vote Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary

PCS has been run by a “broad left” alliance, made up of the Left Unity grouping working with some more right-wing elements, for over 15 years. In that time, after an initial increase, membership has haemorrhaged. In all major government departments, membership has fallen by between 10-50%. The “broad left” narrative is essentially that, if you elect a “left-wing” leadership, you can simply put your trust in them and everything else will fall into place. The dominance of this narrative has led to a decline in workplace activism and militancy, and a decline in density across all bargaining units...

Industrial news in brief

The ballot for general secretary of the civil service union PCS will open on 7 November and close on 12 December. For the first time in 18 years, the sitting general secretary, Mark Serwotka, faces a challenge from the left. Bev Laidlaw, the Independent Left candidate, got 17 branch nominations, topping the number of 15 required to get on the ballot paper. Serwotka got 62 nominations. The candidate backed by the Socialist Party, Marion Lloyd, got 39. The SP was a dominant force in the union, closely allied with Serwotka, until about a year and a half ago. In the Assistant General Secretary...

Back Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary!

The election for general secretary of the civil service union PCS is now well into the branch nomination phase. Nominations close on 14 October. Voting will run from 7 November to 12 December. There are three known candidates: Mark Serwotka, the existing General Secretary; Marion Lloyd, the candidate of the Socialist Party (SP), a current PCS NEC [National Executive] member Marion Lloyd; and Bev Laidlaw, candidate of the Independent Left (IL), and also a current NEC member. Bev Laidlaw has been a consistent opponent of the bombastic and failed PCS leadership. She has been elected to the NEC...

Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary!

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...

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