OVER 270,000 members of the PCS civil servants' union were to start a crucial vote over the future of their union from Friday this week. The vote is on whether to increase democracy in the PCS by having annual national executive elections and conferences.
This is a key opportunity to increase union members' control over their leaders. Socialist Mark Serwotka won the election for general secretary of the PCS in December 2000. The misnamed 'Moderate' group, which still dominates the union's leadership, tried to sack Serwotka last May. A members' revolt and a High Court decision stopped them.
The 'Moderate' run national executive is calling on union members to reject more democracy. They want to hold on to their position for another year in the hope people will forget they launched a coup attempt. They are continuing their campaign against Mark Serwotka.
Union members see the ballot as a chance to back up Mark Serwotka and president Janice Godrich and get rid of the right wing clique for good. Last year's union conference overwhelmingly backed annual executive elections and conferences.
Activists are planning to get the message out to as many people as possible in the next few days. They want to make sure the left doesn't repeat the same mistakes as in the national executive elections last year.
Then, lack of leafleting and activity allowed the 'Moderates' to sneak in. 'We have to throw everything into winning this vote,' said PCS member Paul Murphy. 'The Left Unity group have brought out an excellent leaflet arguing why people should vote yes.' 'We're going to leaflet the Croydon Home Office workplace where around 3,000 PCS members work,' says Jon Gamble, a PCS Home Office activist.