Delegates to the PCS conference were buoyed up by the recent court ruling against the previous government’s attempt to change the civil service redundancy compensation scheme.
Delegates voted that the campaign to defend the scheme should continue so the union can put pressure on the new government.
“The court decision is a step forward but not the solution to all the issues we face,” said Hugh Lanning. “We need to prepare in case we need to return to action.”
Right to work campaign
The conference voted for the union to affiliate to the Right to Work campaign.
The union sees itself at the heart of the European fightback against austerity. The PCS will be sending a delegation to Greece to show solidarity with workers fighting back there, following a conference vote.
A huge cheer greeted the announcement that the Unite union had won its appeal against British Airways. More than £800 was collected for the strikers.
There was a major debate about the union’s plans to support and stand trade union candidates in future elections. In a union-wide consultation, 64.5 percent of branches had supported that proposal.
John McInally from the national executive said it was about extending the campaign to defend jobs and services into the political arena. He said as it was “important to get this right” the consultation should be extended to next year, followed by a ballot of the members.
A number of delegates opposed this move, arguing that the union would be spending money supporting left wing candidates who don’t do very well.
Alex Wilson, from Revenue & Customs East Kilbride, argued it was now time to get involved in the Labour Party.
Many delegates rejected this position. “No party is effectively speaking in defence of public services,” said Alan Runswick from Revenue & Customs Liverpool.
“I was in the Labour Party for 25 years and all the mechanisms to make change from the grassroots have now been closed off.”
Candy Udwin, from the National Gallery, said, “If there are real forces in an area and people want to stand a trade union candidates the PCS should be in a position to support it.
“I’d like to see a faster timetable as the coalition government is not a strong government.”
Because of the closeness of the vote, a card vote was called for. This saw 153,470 votes cast for continuing with the consultation with 86,779 against.
Delegates gave left wing Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell a standing ovation. Green MP Caroline Lucas was also well received.
Solidarity with Weyman Bennett
Conference voted overwhelmingly to support Weyman Bennett, joint general secretary of Unite Against Fascism, against criminal charges arising from the recent anti-English Defence League protest in Bolton.