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PCS Annual Delegate Conferences 2010 28/05/2010

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Conference Reports 2010

National Conference

The branch’s view on some of the important motions passed at the Annual PCS Conference held last week. The full official transcript can be found on the PCS Website.

A1 & EM A642– anti-cuts agenda, commitment to a strong fight back in the face of swinging cuts from the new government.

 EM A647, A8, EM A660 – motions regarding the CSCS. Motions passed in retrospect of court case win and how to move forward. Commitment from Hugh Lanning that all campaigning will be for the benefit of all staff including NUVOS. This also included a motion in favour of protecting existing pensions schemes.

 John McDonnell MP (Guest Speaker) – John McDonnell made a very well received speech about his commitment to public services and the failures of New Labour to uphold these ideals. He mentioned his full support of trade union values. He was also firmly anti-privatisation and for the protection of keeping services like JCP and PDCS in public ownership. John is running for the Labour leadership and discussed how he will find it difficult to get the number of nominations he would need.

 A12 – case for ordinary union members to be allowed time off to attend union events, even if they are not already reps. The branch believes this is very important for building support and knowledge about the work we do.

 A14 – Motion inviting the union to consider the results found in a book, ‘The Spirit Level’ which looks at equalities and inequalities across the world. Also to invite the speaker to do a branch tour.

 A15/A16 – linked motions, one with an NEC censure in it. Unfortunately this was lost due to the censure, but that also meant that PCS now has no policy commitment to ending two-tier work practices due to the standing orders committee’s decision to link the two motions. We believe that the SOC were incorrect to tie these two motions together and that it has left the union with a weak policy on this. Rosie spoke on A16 (speech attached).

 A18, A19 – both good motions on equality, both passed.

 A25 – Motion recognising that we should try to help and unionise facilities management staff on our sites (e.g. cleaners, security, catering) so that we can bargain together as a workforce. Speeches on this were very supportive and recognised the fact that we are in something of a more privileged position than these colleagues of ours.

 A32 – A motion was passed to say that the Civil Service Fast Stream is elitist and discriminatory to some staff as it is based on qualifications and these staff are given undue levels of support and training. Statistics were given as to the large numbers of Fast Stream staff who are from the top universities in the country, and that includes those who apply internally. There was opposition from members who said it was a good progression opportunity. The union now has a policy to oppose the fast stream.

 A40 – This motion was a continuation of last year’s proposal to stand political candidates on a TU and pro-public services agenda. The motion made a commitment to consult with members over the next year.

 A44 – Land Registry reps told the story of one Branch Secretary who was followed by a private surveillance firm hired by Land Registry management when her disability case was called into question. The union believed her case (for RSI) is completely genuine, but management followed her and her family and friends in secret and then sacked the rep (Jane Brooke). The motion called for support for Jane’s reinstatement and support for victimised reps in the future.

 A622 – Emergency Motion to support fellow civil servants on strike and under threat in Greece. A decision was made to send a delegation of ten PCS members (no more than two from the NEC) to Greece to show solidarity in their next general strike.

 A67 – Discussion of whether to support withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Conference supported withdrawal but there was opposition on the grounds that it would leave the Afghans in a state of civil war and danger from the Taliban. The position as to timings of withdrawal was not specified in the motion.

 A70 – PCS is now affiliated to the anti-cuts, anti-unemployment Right to Work campaign.

 A71/A72 – the first motion called for affiliation to the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and the second called for disaffiliation with Hands Off Venezuela and Hands of Iran campaigns. The conference vote in favour of A71 and against A72, maintaining support. Many were supporting it critically, with support for Venezuelan workers and civilians but questioning the influence of Chavez. Rob Bryson stood up and called Venezuela a terrorist state.

 Finance Report – The union is skint. It was discussed how to make savings (paper wastage etc).

 A85 – On ‘yo-yo’ members, and how to deal with those members that join for help and then leave/cross picket lines. The conference remitted the motion, and this branch is confident that we already have a set of practices in place that work for us.

 A87 – The branch supported a motion that called for a reduction in Full Time Officers’ pay to be brought down to nearer the average ‘workers wage’ in PCS (around £25k). At the moment the General and Deputy General Secretaries earn around £87k and £75k respectively. The motion was not passed due to opposition that claimed that this argument was ‘a distraction’.

 A111/A112 – A111 called for 35 days leave across the board for all staff – the policy at present is to campaign for 30 days across the board. This motion was remitted. DWP Derbyshire (our new ‘sister’ branch) proposed an increase to 35 days A/L for staff who have served more than 25 years. This was widely opposed on the grounds that it equates to age discrimination, highlighted by Tom who spoke on this.

 A114 – called for a reduction in hours in the working week. Passed.

 A115 – passed in favour of the creation of green jobs, this branch supported, though the instructions are vague and are not very instructive as to what workers can do to promote transition to a green economy not based on profit.

 A116 – motion in solidarity with workers who campaigned to defend their jobs by occupying their workplace – the Vestas wind turbine factory in Newport, Isle of Wight. Rosie visited the occupation last year so is happy to talk to reps about this.

 A117 – Motion calls for free bus travel across the UK. Speakers mentioned that although it sounds unrealistic it is actually commonplace for workers in many countries and Sheffield’s bus services were heavily subsidised until the mid nineties. Funding would be raised through green taxes.

 Caroline Lucas MP (Guest Speaker) – Caroline Lucas as the first Green Party MP (for Brighton Pavilion constituency) discussed the need to protect public services and create green jobs. She discussed the Greens’ policy for a ‘Green New Deal’ and creation of environmentally sound new jobs. She said this was a progressive solution to both the environmental issues in the world and the unemployment problems. This was popular but she also showed the more liberal aspects of the Green Party agenda by mentioning her positive attitude towards investment into small businesses and entrepreneurialism.

 A122 – Motion passed in support of joining together with other trade unions to call for a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on millionaires of 10% which would pay for 15,000 more new schools (for example).

 A127 – Call for support for carers as they are a ‘massive un-unionised workforce’ who get no breaks or respite. Call for an increase in carers allowance and support.

 A78 – Call for an equality impact assessment on members subscriptions. This is after a very questionable stance earlier in the conference from DfCSF Sheffield whom the branch delegation believed were incorrect in saying that higher paid members shouldn’t be paying as high a percentage subs as lower paid members.

 A46 – Branch in favour of supporting time off and support for the Young Members Network going into local schools to teach children about the importance of trade unions.

Disclaimer: any opinions are probably those of some individuals and should not be taken too seriously!

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