PCS AGS Election Result
Firstly, I want to congratulate John Moloney on winning the election for Assistant General Secretary in PCS. I also want to sincerely thank all those who worked so hard to build my campaign from scratch, without the backing of any internal faction; all the branches which nominated and recommended my candidacy; all those who funded the campaign entirely on small donations from supporters; and all who, across political and factional divides, stood up for a programme of winning, equality and socialism. The election was very closely contested between three left-wing candidates and every single person in this campaign made a difference.
It is immediately obvious that the combined votes for myself and the successful candidate send a message that activists voted for a change in PCS. So, whilst I didn’t win, I think the future looks exciting for PCS. Almost a third of members’ votes were cast in favour of a focus on workplace organising and to take real action on inequalities and inclusion. Both John Moloney and myself are enthusiastic about a type of deep union organising which has repeatedly shown results in Europe, the USA and South America. So although there will be disappointment today, we know there's scope to work together, as one union, to build workers’ power in PCS.
The majority of voters also endorsed enhancing PCS engagement with Jeremy Corbyn and the current Labour leadership. With some caution, however, I urge the successful candidate to ensure he takes account of the political complexities of the devolved nations in all parts of the U.K.
Significantly, two thirds of voting members clearly rejected the industrial conservatism of Chris Baugh and, ultimately, the Socialist Party’s political control over the post.
During the debate, I defended the role of union organiser "staffers" in their work with local reps to build workplace power to win on pay. Most PCS hub staff have been recruited from among strike leaders and radical campaigners. Amid the tired accusation of "bureaucrats" from my opponents’ supporters, my hub team worked determinedly and in harmony with local reps, applying the successful deep organising methods in the workplace. Lay members and full time staff in Scotland achieved a 65% turn out in the pay ballot without friction. Old-fashioned and outdated accusations that union organisers are mere ‘bureaucrats’ jar with reality. It’s time for some honesty in PCS: bureaucratic barriers to building support for strike votes do not come from PCS staff.
For me, the most disappointing result is the continually low turnouts in these elections. Only 10.5% of PCS members took part. Lay leaders can now unify around workplace organising and lead to engage members better, and as I said during the election, I will do everything I can to support this work.
I maintain that there is a growing need to remove barriers that reinforce inequalities of participation and power in our structures, particularly between women and men. As the only woman candidate standing in this election, I met with accusations of tokenism for raising this concern in a union where women make up 60% of our membership. The sexism that women face for daring to stand for election should never be tolerated whether it’s on social media or anywhere else in our union.
I stand by my programme and proposals for the future. I remain committed to positively building our organising strategy in my PCS role and I am determined to create space where I can to increase women's equality, power and participation at levels in our union and in the wider trade union movement. The energy we’ve created around this socialist and feminist programme can’t just dissipate, so let’s keep the conversation going.
I give my absolute backing to Mark Serwotka in taking these ideas forward in his campaign for re-election for General Secretary later this year.