HUNDREDS OF civil servants have packed PCS union democracy campaign meetings around the country. They are furious that discredited general secretary Barry Reamsbottom is trying to oust elected general secretary Mark Serwotka. Over 150 people met in Sheffield on Tuesday of last week, and 140 met in Manchester the next day.
This follows meetings of 350 in London, 50 in Bristol and over 120 in Nottingham. Over 500 messages condemning Barry Reamsbottom have been sent to the union by members and branches. Many people who supported Mark's opponent in the election, centre-left candidate Hugh Lanning, as well as Lanning himself, are supporting the campaign for democracy.
The main meeting in Sheffield last week was at the Moorfoot workplace in the town centre. Some 110 civil servants from local offices heard Mark Serwotka speak about how important his campaign is.
'Mark spoke about the issues that affect members, like national pay, privatisation, terms and conditions,' says Martin John from Sheffield. He was well received, and there was unanimous backing for the campaign.'
Another 40 people from the trade unions attended a meeting in the evening. Derek Simpson, the left wing challenger for AEEU-Amicus union general secretary, spoke out in support of Mark.
'The meeting in Manchester was just incredible,' says Sue Bond. 'We've found it difficult to hold big public meetings of civil servants. But the mood is changing. People were saying, 'Wouldn't it be great if we were all here together for decent pay or against privatisation?' There are going to be meetings in Ipswich, Southend and other places now. What we've achieved in the fight for democracy can be used to build a better union.'
'The 120 people at our meeting were not the usual activists,' says Paul Williams from Nottingham. 'Some 80 people left their names for the defend PCS democracy campaign.' 'The mood is brilliant,' says Dave Smith, a PCS member in the private sector in Telford. 'In my workplace I'm recruiting people to the union on the basis of what is happening. People are saying they're joining the union to kick Barry Reamsbottom out.' The court case to decide who runs the union is set for next week. Whatever the result, activists will have to continue to campaign for democracy inside their union.
Activists are planning a lobby of the High Court in central London when the dates of the trial are known.