THE ATTEMPT by the right wing leadership in the PCS civil servants' union to overthrow democracy has entered a crucial week. The court case between elected general secretary and socialist Mark Serwotka and outgoing general secretary Barry Reamsbottom began on Tuesday of this week. It will decide who runs the union.
Reamsbottom tried to use his supporters' majority on the union's national executive in May to overturn the decision of over 40,000 members to elect Mark Serwotka back in December 2000. This created an upsurge of anger across the PCS and the trade union movement. Hundreds of members have met in big public meetings to denounce Reamsbottom's actions. Over 500 messages of condemnation have been sent to PCS headquarters, and 4,000 PCS members have signed a defend democracy petition.
The July/August edition of the union's magazine has an article from Reamsbottom attacking Mark Serwotka and the union's left wing president, Janice Godrich. Mark and Janice have no articles in the magazine. 'It's unfortunate that we have to go to a court to decide this,' says Mark Serwotka. 'I don't believe that trade unionists always get justice in that arena. Reamsbottom has had the filthiest campaign we've seen in the trade union movement. If I become general secretary of the union it means that all the priorities that members have-national pay bargaining, stopping privatisation, supporting other workers in struggle-will be taken up by this union.'
The result was due on Friday of this week. If the decision goes Reamsbottom's way many activists are determined to continue fighting to reclaim the union.