Results of elections for the PCS union’s assistant general secretary (AGS) were announced last week.
John Moloney—a member of the Independent Left group inside PCS—beat the incumbent candidate Chris Baugh. Lynn Henderson—backed by Socialist Worker supporters—came third.
Socialist Worker supporters backed Henderson mainly due to her support for the union’s agreed position over holding a national ballot over pay.
Baugh and his supporters were in favour of balloting individually each of the union’s sections, which correspond to different government departments. This would have seen each section negotiate with their own employers and undermine unity.
Moloney presented himself as critical of the union bureaucracy. But he is also against the union’s national campaign for a 10 percent pay rise, instead arguing for a campaign for pay equalisation.
Moloney got 6,211 votes. Baugh got 5,796 and Henderson 5,588. It suggests Maloney won partly because the Left Unity group’s vote was split between Baugh and Henderson. But only around
10.5 percent of ballot papers were returned, suggesting many didn’t see the arguments between left groups as relevant.
Re-engaging members in the union means having to build rank and file organisation in PCS branches. Recent campaigning for strike ballots over pay has been effective. The pay campaign saw the growth of activist networks that can be built on.
The best way to build a strong union with a rank and file is through involving members in active campaigning and struggle.