THE CONFERENCE of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) began with an opening speech by the general secretary, Mark Serwotka. He emphasised that the PCS must mobilise their members by voting for action on pay, and achieve a turnout of over 50%. Mark added that such a vote would immediately ‘change the nature of talks’ with the Cabinet Office. Already, our Scottish government members had been offered above inflation pay rises of up to 12% for some members.
Mark also praised the POA union which could join us in taking strike action on pay. Mark is due to be president of the TUC in September. He praised the leading role of PCS women in the labour movement. Janice Godrich has been elected as PCS president for the 17th time, while PCS Scotland secretary, Lynn Henderson, has been elected president of the Scottish TUC and PCS Wales secretary, Shavanah Taj, is expected to be elected Welsh TUC president.
Mark highlighted the collapse of Carillion by calling for all government contracts to be brought back in-house and for an end to privatisation. Mark condemned the government’s treatment of the Windrush generation and the climate of hatred that it has created. He praised the action taken by McDonald’s workers to try to win a wage rate of £10 an hour and union recognition.
Mark emphasised that we need a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to halt the government’s attacks on PCS members’ pay, terms and conditions. He expressed outrage at the attacks by the right wing of the Labour Party and their false accusations of antisemitism aimed at undermining Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. John McDonnell spoke as a guest. He received a standing ovation when he vowed that a socialist Labour government will end the victimisation that the union has suffered at the hands of the Tories. He also stated that the hated Trade Union Act would be scrapped within the first 100 days of a Labour government as part of a programme to usher in a prosperous, democratic and shared economy.
Afterwards delegates voted overwhelmingly to develop an effective political strategy to advance an industrial agenda, with national union support, for a Corbyn-led government. It would involve a widespread consultation with all PCS members on how best the union could increase support for a campaign to elect the party under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.