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What next after the general election, for PCS and the left
Marion Lloyd, PCS BEIS group president and national executive committee member (personal capacity)
Preparing the PCS civil servants' union to withstand the attacks of the new Tory government is urgent. Equally important is the role our union can play in ensuring the whole trade union movement responds to the coming attacks.
Johnson has spoken of being a "one-nation conservative" but in the same breath launched an attack on the right of rail workers to strike.
This, combined with the recent brutal anti-democratic court rulings against the postal workers' union, the CWU, shows the real face of Johnson's Tory government.
If the trade union movement fights with a strategy that unites workers across unions then Johnson's attacks can be defeated. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher had a majority of 147. Within 12 months the campaign of mass non-payment against the poll tax began and led to her resignation just a few years later.
Today's Tory party is bitterly divided, and Johnson was only able to win by linking Brexit with promises to invest in health, housing and education and falsely claiming he is standing up for 'the people'.
The road to Brexit is fraught with dangers for big business and the Tories. It is entirely possible that this will cause huge political problems for the government. If arrangements for a capitalist Brexit trash the economy, all the other promises on taxes and spending will become impossible to deliver. The worst estimates say that a 'no deal' exit could cause twice the damage of the banking crash.
Johnson's false promises will become apparent very quickly and provoke a response which the Tories didn't anticipate. The relevance of the anti-austerity agenda promoted by Jeremy Corbyn will be back in the minds of working people.
The trade union movement must prepare now. PCS should demand the Trade Union Congress (TUC) call an urgent 'council of war' to plan the fight back against Johnson's attacks - including demands for socialist policies and immediate support for PCS, education, postal and rail workers currently in dispute.
If the TUC doesn't act, then PCS must meet with like-minded unions to organise an effective and quick response.
For PCS the battle lines are now being drawn with Johnson, aided and abetted by his side-kick, the unelected, unaccountable Dominic Cummings, planning their overhaul of Whitehall which will impact all our members and the communities we serve. Let's not forget it was Cummings who lectured that a permanent civil service belongs in the history books!
The priorities for PCS members are already set. Fair pay, a return to national bargaining, investment in the key services we provide and an end to office closures, job losses and pension cuts. In short this means a fight to preserve a permanent, properly trained and rewarded civil service. We must also step up our campaigning to stop climate change.
The PCS Broad Left Network will have a vital part to play in the struggles ahead. We must hold the current PCS leadership to account. The 9,278 members that voted for me in the recent union general secretary election showed a tremendous level of support for the Broad Left Network and our programme.
The PCS national executive committee must reflect these members' and key activists' views, as well as the 5,059 who voted for Bev Laidlaw.
- A return to a member-led union
- A joined-up strategy to rebuild PCS which links bargaining to organising
- A coordinated fight back against office closures to save jobs, with PCS groups and national branches fully consulted
- Lay structures (the activists who are PCS members), and not full-time officials, directing the best use of union resources
The Broad Left Network will be standing candidates in the PCS 2020 elections with a programme to counter the Tory attacks and fighting to defend our members' interests. Attend the event we have called on the 18 January 11am at the Britannia Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester. Join us in this struggle by joining and supporting the Broad Left Network.
In The Socialist 8 January 2020:
Defend the right to strike
What we think