The national delegate conference of Left Unity met in Gateshead last Saturday. It is the socialist grouping which has a majority on most of the leading committees in the civil service workers’ PCS union.
The conference took place at an important time as the union is set to ballot over 280,000 members for strike action in the new year against job cuts.
The ballot takes place from 2-23 January. The first strike is planned for 31 January.
Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, has described the ballot as the “most important campaign” the union has ever engaged in. In truth, the whole future of the civil service is at stake.
Failure to win the ballot will see attacks on pay levels, pensions and working conditions accelerate, and would give the green light for the government to press ahead with further privatisations.
To win the dispute we will need to take more than one day of action. The union will need to be ready to follow it up with more action, including further strikes and a national demonstration.
Activists need to mobilise now to ensure that we have a thumping result in the ballot and a mandate for more action.
Some 64 delegates attended the Left Unity conference and debated motions calling for an end to privatisation, the coordination of departmental and sectional pay campaigns and for an end to the job cuts.
Support for the call for a campaign for a national day of action to defend the NHS was passed.
Motions calling upon the PCS to take action over the under representation of minorities within the union, and to oppose the Nazi BNP were also passed.
An emergency motion expressing support for victimised Unison union activist Yunus Bakhsh was passed.
Unfortunately, too much time was spent discussing internal Left Unity matters. This allowed no debate on the lessons to be learned from this year’s botched campaign to defend jobs in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The mistakes in this campaign were a contributory factor in a small split on the left that may result in an alternative left slate in the union elections.
This could help the right wing in the union in upcoming elections.