Making some ground (John Moloney's column)

Submitted by AWL on 15 June, 2021 - 4:11 Author: John Moloney
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PCS annual delegate conference took place digitally on 13-14 June. Workers’ Liberty activists, as part of the Independent Left network, supported various motions to the conference.

A motion on full-time officials’ pay, which talked about exploring ways to bring officers’ pay more closely in line with the average pay of members, was defeated, but by a margin which suggests some ground has been made in this debate since last discussed.

Similarly, a proposal for the election of all officials was also defeated, but the motion on union structure that was passed included language about exploring ways to extend the “democratic principle” to officials other than the general secretary and assistant general secretary. Again, this shows some progress.

A motion committing the union to support democratic and working-class struggles in China and Hong Kong, including the Uyghur people’s struggle for human rights, will be discussed on 14 June. The National Executive Committee is supporting this motion and it’s likely to pass.

The conference has also taken a decision to formally devolve decision-making about industrial matters in Scotland and Wales, where there are separate civil service employment and bargaining structures, to specific democratic committees in those countries.

We are balloting outsourced workers at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for further industrial action, in a ballot closing on 29 June. The workers are employed by ISS. They’ve previously been part of sustained strikes at BEIS, which won significant concessions. The dispute this time is over a number of issues, including pay, annual leave entitlement, and workplace safety, but we’re very clear that our ultimate aim is to win direct, in-house employment.

The struggle over workplace safety in the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex is also ongoing. It is becoming a matter of attritional warfare. We are prepared for the long haul and are planning a campaign of action over several months.

I will meet with the United Voices of the World union (UVW) on Tuesday 15 June to discuss the campaign against job cuts amongst outsourced cleaners in the Royal Parks. We’ll hopefully agree a timetable for an industrial action ballot, and plan joint campaigning and fundraising. If and when strikes happen, we’ll ensure that the workers receive strike pay.

The Group Executive Committee in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will meet soon, and put in place plans to move our campaign for workplace safety forwards. A decision will be made on exactly who to ballot, and when.

• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity.

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