Socialist Worker

Rage against uncivil coup

Issue No. 1804

THE BATTLE for democracy in the PCS civil servants' union is continuing. The right wing dominated national executive launched a coup three weeks ago to remove the elected general secretary, socialist Mark Serwotka. They wanted to replace him with discredited general secretary Barry Reamsbottom.

They also wanted to sideline the recently elected president, Janice Godrich, who is a Scottish Socialist Party member. A judge found the national executive meeting at which the right tried to overturn Mark unconstitutional, and declared it void. Mark continues to be the general secretary elect until another court case in mid-July decides who is general secretary.

The attacks on democracy have created uproar among rank and file civil servants. 'People are astounded with what's going on,' says Stan, a civil servant in London. 'It comes at a time when we're facing attacks from management. When Mark Serwotka was elected it was a breath of fresh air. He's one of us. We want to be in a fighting union.'

'Whatever people's political persuasion they are outraged,' says Trish Hampton from London. 'It's fundamental for the life of the union. 'As many members as possible must send messages of support to Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich.'

Over 50 civil servants joined a solidarity lobby of the PCS headquarters on what should have been Mark Serwotka's first day as general secretary on Wednesday of last week. 'It's an outrage that people have to turn up here to defend the democracy of the union,' said Mark Serwotka.

'After our recent conference everybody thought we would fight for national pay and public services, and defend members in the workplace. Instead the new national executive have made a flagrant attempt to launch a coup and ignore 40,000 members' wishes. We have to ensure that this is a campaign the like of which the PCS has never seen before. I've already had over 400 messages of support. We shall overcome this outrageous attack on democracy if we stick together.'

Defend Mark Serwotka-defend democracy in the PCS.

Public meeting, Wednesday 19 June, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road (opposite Euston station/tube).

Speakers: Mark Serwotka (general secretary elect PCS), Hugh Lanning (assistant general secretary PCS), Bob Crow (general secretary RMT), Paul Foot (campaigning journalist). Chair: Janice Godrich (president PCS).

British Museum

SOME 750 members of the PCS and Prospect unions are to take strike action at the British Museum in central London next Monday. They are striking against management's plans to make £6.5 million cuts leading to 150 job losses-15 percent of staff.

A massive 85 percent of union members voted to strike on a 60 percent turnout. Both Prospect and PCS members voted for the 24-hour stoppage. 'This is about the total hypocrisy of the government,' says Terry Adams, PCS national officer. On the one hand they bang the drum of cultural projects, while on the other hand they don't provide the necessary funding.'

The cuts come on top of gallery closures, cuts in education and research budgets, and an 80 percent reduction in the fund for new purchases. Chronic government underfunding over many years has resulted in a £5 million structural deficit at the museum.

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Article information

Sat 15 Jun 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1804
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