Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary!

The nomination period for the post of General Secretary in the civil service trade union PCS has now opened. PCS branches should be organising to debate which candidate they wish to support in the actual elections, which will open on 7 November.

Bev Laidlaw, a DWP rank and file activist and NEC member, will be contesting the election as a PCS Independent Left candidate. All serious socialists and PCS activists who yearn for a departure from the many years of failed, bombastic, top down bureaucratic leader leadership should campaign to nominate and vote for Bev.

Industrial news in brief

Author

Ollie Moore, Jay Dawkey, Cath Fletcher and David Pendletone

UCU ballot opens

University staff belonging to UCU are being balloted for strike action this autumn over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation.

Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms.

Industrial news in brief

Author

Ollie Moore

Tube workers fight job cuts

Tube workers are currently voting in an industrial action ballot, as the RMT union pushes back against job cuts proposed as part of the so-called “Transformation” process.

Nearly 2,000 workers are being balloted, including workers in engineering, signals, electrical, track, the London Underground Control Centre, and the Emergency Response Unit. “Transformation”, a sweeping restructure and job cuts plan, has already led to admin workers seeing their numbers slashed.

Fat cat college threatens to sink pension scheme

Trinity College, the richest college at the University of Cambridge (net worth £1.5bn), recently took the decision to remove itself from the USS pension agreement — the same agreement that saw 2018’s mass industrial action on dozens of university campuses.

This verdict, taken based on flawed financial grounds and with disregard to the wider education sector, puts at greater risk the pensions of over 400,000 university workers across the UK, and is already leading other universities to re-consider their long-term commitment to the scheme.

A different PCS conference

The 2019 conference of PCS, the main civil service union, from 21-23 May in Brighton was the most open and interesting one in years. The great majority of motions on the Conference agenda were not controversial and nor should they be: the bulk of equality and terms and conditions motions should command support. However, on a number of issues the NEC found itself struggling to win over delegates.

Left wins in UCU

Jo Grady, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Sheffield and Pensions Officer of Sheffield UCU, has been elected General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU). Grady won on a landslide, picking up 48.7% of the vote in the first round and then 64% in the second round.

Letters

Left on PCS election

The victory in the PCS civil service union’s Assistant General Secretary (AGS) election for John Moloney, candidate of the Independent Left and a supporter of Workers’ Liberty, has met diverse responses from the left press.

PCS: close vote on pay

On the first day of the conference of the PCS civil service union in Brighton, 21 May, a composite backed by the Independent Left on pay was only narrowly defeated.

The debate centred round two emergency motions, one from the National Executive (NEC), and a composited backed both by the Independent Left and by the Socialist Party, which until recently dominated the union leadership. It went to a card vote. The NEC motion passed 62,000 to 60,000, so the alternative composite fell. The NEC motion could be summed up as “do the same again”.

Stalinists for WTO rules?

Author

Jim Denham

On Saturday 6 April, I sat in a room full of activists from the giant union Unite, and heard the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner talking about Brexit. He was clear on one thing: a no deal Brexit on WTO terms would be a disaster for jobs in manufacturing. Turner emphasised the chaos that no-deal would cause to the automotive sector, which is dependent upon frictionless trade across Europe.

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