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Political extremism and the PCS union

This is a cross post from Howie’s Corner

As the fallout from the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party continues its’ worth looking at their activities and connections in the trade unions. Already today one UCU member has written on the Socialist Unity website:

“I phoned the SWP this morning and explained that if any expulsions over this take place we will move no confidence in any SWP members on our UCU branch executive.”

This caused a furore amongst the comrades as some agreed and others (mainly SWP members) accused the author of returning to the “McCarthyite era”. Actually I doubt if the mechanisms of any union, let alone the UCU would allow for such a purge and in any case it is always up to the members to decide who should represent them. Far better that the activities of the SWP should be exposed as they do not and never have acted in members interests. As Paul Holborrow once said “You are One, two, three, four a SWP member, only then are you a Trade Union Representative”.

Andy Newman the “Editor” of the Socialist Unity blog comments that:

“if their decisions are indeed made for them by people outside the union, they should be disqualified for elected union office, and that could be explained to members easily.”

In the PCS union we have seen an example of this before. When pensions were being negotiated with the then Labour Government, Sue Bond (PCS Vice President & SWP member) voted with the majority to accept the deal that was on offer. Along with Martin John who was on the NEC the SWP initiated disciplinary action. Martin simply quit the SWP. Sue Bond however was forced to pen a self-denouncement and agree not to break the “party line” again. In other words she is on the PCS National Executive to represent the SWP not PCS members.

The SWP (along with its’ rival the Socialist Party) dominate the activities of PCS. The General Secretary Mark Serwotka, whilst not actually a member is and always has been close to the SWP. He appears on their platforms and sided with them when the SWP fell out big time in the ill named “Respect” party with George Galloway. Currently he is still billed to appear at the Marxism 2013 event planned for July this year. Sue Bond along with other members of the SWP are firmly entrenched in the PCS which they achieve by being part of the Left Unity formation which brings the far left together with the Socialist party,large numbers of non-aligned reps and members of the Labour Party.

The other extremist outfit that dominates or rather controls the union is the Socialist Party. Leading figures of the SP include Janice Godrich (President) Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary) and John McInally (PCS Vice President). They also operate on the basis of outside loyalties and have pushed the union into the disastrous policy of “standing & supporting” candidates in parliamentary elections thereby helping to undermine the key principle of political neutrality that all civil service unions have previously followed. This policy is intended to bring the PCS into the “orbit” of the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition that the SP run in conjunction with the SWP.

Further political manipulation of PCS takes place through the getting the union to affiliate tovarious front organisations of both the Socialist Party and the SWP. These include: Unite the Resistance (SWP), National Shop Stewards Movement (SP), Right to work campaign(SWP) and Youth Fight for Jobs (SP). This is not an exhaustive list. Through these groups the campaigns of the far left are unwittingly financed by PCS members.

Even now with the union leadership calling for a strike, the main consideration is the order from both the SWP & Socialist Party Central Committees to force a General Strike that simply will not happen but will allow them to continue their hegemony over a small section of the PCS membership that they rely on for control of the union. Remember the vast majority of members do not participate in internal union affairs and generally consider membership of the union as a form of “policy insurance” should they need it.

At the moment PCS Reps are able to help vast numbers of members who fall foul of Management , however that is all about to change as the Government attacks the amount of “Facility Time” that Reps are able to use. The continuing control of the Far left under Mark Serwotka has led PCS to the position it is in now. Weaker and more isolated than ever before. Its’ time for them to go.