ACTIVISTS ACROSS the PCS civil servants' union have been organising to win the union's ballot for more democracy. They are fighting to win annual conferences and annual national executive elections.
This is a key chance for the members to win more control of their leadership, extend democracy in the union, and bring the union's leadership to account for its undemocratic behaviour. The right wing dominated national executive attempted to kick out the elected left wing general secretary Mark Serwotka last year. A grassroots revolt and a High Court decision stopped them.
An overwhelming vote at last year's union conference forced the union leadership to have the ballot. Union activists have been out leafleting and arguing with members to win the vote. The ballot papers went out last Friday and the ballot will last until the end of the month.
'Here in Edinburgh we leafleted 11 big offices last Friday,' says Neil Davidson. 'These are mainly branches where the right wing are in control of the union positions. But there is a shift going on. People are appalled because of their coup attempt and the amount of money they're spending on continuing to get rid of Mark Serwotka. We got a good response. People want more democracy. We've also organised to leaflet other areas, like Falkirk.'
'The Left Unity leaflets arguing why people should vote yes are everywhere in Manchester,' says Sue Bond. 'We've got them into almost every department.' 'Every office in Birmingham has been covered,' says Sarah Murray. 'All the people in my office are voting yes. We work in one of the lowest paid departments and everyone is so angry at last year's pay deal and the new sickness policies. Nothing's being done to challenge it.'
Every union member should now throw themselves into building the biggest vote for more democracy.
SOME 35 workers at the Health and Safety Executive's national headquarters in London attended an anti-war meeting on Monday. More were expected, but management banned the meeting and it had to be held off the premises.
There was enthusiasm for this Saturday's march and for holding a three-minute silence if Iraq is attacked. Every civil service building was instructed to hold just such a silence after 11 September.
A MEETING of the PCS London Regional Committee for the Department of Work and Pensions set a target date for a strike ballot of every job centre and social security office in London. This is to defend Chris Ford, a union activist. Management have threatened Chris with the sack for his role in defending members during the recent strike over safety in the department. The ballot is set to start in March.