Our job is for the union – our work is in the movement
As a Left trade unionist, I know how much an honour and privilege it is to be employed by the Public and Commercial Services union as a national officer. In the past, in our own like other unions, had concerns aired about union officers being largely a bureaucracy. Where officers are employed by, but disconnected from the workers and the wider trade union movement, that can be true. Or worse, when officers actively work against elected Left leaderships.
But, for socialists, having a union job is one we hold with great principle. We know the boundaries but that our working activities are not divorced from our activism. Solidarity is not subject to employment contract or salary, nor can it be switched off at 5pm or weekends. Our job is for the union, our work is in the movement. Sometimes these are one and the same, and many more times the commitment given, action taken, time and energy spent and hand held in solidarity is our own. As the elected President of the Scottish Trades Union Congress this year, I experience first-hand how powerful the solidarity of our movement is when we come together to support workers in struggle.
The choice of who holds leadership office in trade unions is ultimately and rightly in the hands of the workers. Unlike the bosses, union leaders are subject to election under union rules. Unionised workers are represented by at all levels by accountable representatives picked by the workers themselves. Full time officials, where not elected, are employees of their union, and therefore accountable firstly to the general secretary as chief executive and tasked to carry out the agreed strategies of their lay Executive committees and the policies voted on at our conferences. As a Left-led union, the PCS staff appraisal system is not linked to pay. Instead, it is based on conference policy. That way our membership is assured that all of our staff are focused on the democratically-agreed priorities.
As a long serving full time officer of PCS union, I am proud of lay-led decision-making and accountability. After 14 years of successful close working with a large number of lay leaders, I announced on 21 December that I will, for the first time, seek nomination from branches to stand for a senior elected post. All members of PCS will, this Spring, have a right to participate in our election for Assistant General Secretary. The successful candidate will be elected for a five year term, up to 2024.Therefore, it is important that I am open and clear about who I am and where I stand on our union’s priorities and present my vision. My vision is positive, inclusive and forward looking and detailed on the website, HERE.
I stand as a socialist woman with a breadth of experience and participation in our union and the wider labour and trade union movement. I am ready, with branch support, to put myself before the membership and if elected, lead from the front to inspire greater diversity and participation among the under-represented and the marginalised.
I reiterate my support for the selected Left Unity candidates and will back the Democracy Alliance slate for the NEC. I will work in co-operation with our general secretary Mark Serwotka, Fran Heathcote as the national president and the NEC to implement our conference policy for a national pay campaign and implement the NEC strategy a win a majority national ballot with a strike-ready membership.
If you want to support my campaign, you can sign up HERE.
I will be posting regular blogs throughout the campaign. However, I also have a long-running blog discussing PCS, politics, and the trade union movement generally which you can find HERE.