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ROUND AND ABOUT
BY Judas Iscariot - ADVENT 2008

It’s all quiet on the western front. The smell of roast turkey and trimmings in the dug-outs; Christmas cards pinned to the telephone lines along the trenches, fairy lights strung along the barbed-wire and we’re driving home for Christmas, top to toe in tail-backs with the red lights on the run…

Back at Chateau Falconcrest the masters of spin are talking up the “victory” they say we’ve won while the rank-and-file try to make sense of what, if anything, has been gained by agreeing to call-off the Poppy Day Offensive last month. We’re told the “agreement” has opened the door to putting more money in members’ pockets and that the 2 per cent cap has been broken. But essentially all we got for the truce is a Management agreement to talk on pay with the proviso that any future “improvements” above and beyond the peanuts already on the table are paid for in future job cuts above and beyond those already factored in existing proposals. It’s what we used to call a productivity agreement in the 1970s – though in those halcyon days unions and employers signed cast-iron agreements spelling out exactly what was paid for in advance.

The Grandees are, at least, certain of one victory and that will be at the national elections next year. The decision to call off the strike was fully backed by their high-caste allies in the PCS Democrats and the Secret Left and most of the membership grudgingly accept that there was little enthusiasm for another big push so near to Christmas, especially now that the high street is collapsing along with the rest of the capitalist world in the biggest slump since 1929.

But that hasn’t stopped 4TM from firing off some cheap shots in an effort to maintain their political profile in the run-up to elections they are once again going to dismally lose. 4TM like to pose as a viable opposition to the Grandees Big Tent, a NEC in waiting for the day when the membership drive out the RED MENACE and sweep them into power. The problem is they’ve got no real leaders now. LEGS PRIESTLEY is counting the days to his retirement and JAKE WILDE has put himself on the back-burner to concentrate on his career. That’s left 4TM in the capable hands of ROB BRYSON and HOWARD FULLERSHIT, who are more interested in paying off old scores against their former TROT friends rather than advancing a comprehensive alternative to the Grandee strategy. And now they are scraping the barrel to attack the Grandees for doing what 4TM have been demanding for the past year or so. This may be sweet music to the Moderati and IR faithful but it cuts no ice with the majority of those who bother to vote at election time.

RED-blooded opposition predictably comes from the SOCIALIST WANKERS who are chancing their arm on the NEC by denouncing the agreement as betrayal of the members who voted for the strike. It was a bad deal and yes, you’ve guessed it, the struggle continues!

But the Grandees know that this is all SWP bark. Only a tiny fraction of the membership are ever taken in by SWP rhetoric and the SOCIALIST WANKERS are in any case in  the throes of a major split following the removal of two of their biggies from their leadership over the RESPECT fiasco.

There was a similar response from the INDEPENDENT LEFT aka “Trotsky’s Independent Traders” a tiny band of less than 50 activists mainly found in DWP. They do have an alternative, a:
“more imaginative and effective form of action, bringing out regions that faced the first cuts and developing a policy of targeted action, financed and supported by a national levy of members, to effectively hit the employer where it was most vulnerable. This action would be short, swift and effective”.

The problem is that when that was used during the Pathfinder dispute Management turned the tables and prolonged the local strikes to bleed the union’s national strike funds. How can PCS ensure that actions are “short, swift and effective” and not drawn-out, over-exposed and ineffectual? CHARLIE McDONALD, as always, has the answer buried within his rambling rants against all and sundry and no-one can understand what’s he’s on about.

It’s not surprising because the IL is a coalition of all sorts of assorted Trots and they don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet.

According to  Comrade STEVE RYAN (Wrexham PCS)
“The answer in PCS is to begin the ardous task of building a rank and file to challenge the leadership and hold them to account - or by-pass them! This in turn should reach out across all unions to build a strong bottom-up organisation that is not just an electoral machine but is genuinely based on fighting for the interests of workers everywhere. There should be total opposition to all job losses, closures and pay freezes, make the bosses pay. Where possible threatened factories, offices etc. should be occupied under workers’ self-management”.

But this “arduous task” was clearly too daunting for Comrade STEVE LLOYD who deserted last week to take up a juicy full-time post in the teachers’ union appropriately known as the NUT.

Talking about mental health, IAN PARK (or “DH PARKY” to his many enemies) has had a row with the Independent Left for whom he stood in last year’s NEC elections, by er…e-mail and left. Having also managed to fall out with 4themembers (where he lasted a mere 5 months) he’s nowhere else to go as the remaining group in PCS is LUNITY which he blames for his always losing elections in his own Department of Health.

The Revenue & Customs GEC have been getting it in the neck since the equality committees had their facility time cut. Unbeknown to the GEC, the FTO in charge of equality matters John COOTE had informed the equality committee chairs that they each had 100 days facility time, which is three times what some GEC members had been allocated.

Soon after that COOTE went on the sick, and it was left up to the GEC to make a decision on whether or not the original allocations should stand. Considering that some GEC members were already running out of facility time, the decision was taken to reduce the equality allocations by 20 days each, which is proving deeply unpopular.

This paper should be taken at the GEC in January and our agents are instructed to report on the inevitable uproar. Just what were COLBECK & BONIFACE thinking? 

Though the cease-fire is holding all along the line Management provocations continue. Trade Policy branch secretary JOHN WARD went down to his union room (LG088) one morning to prepare a personal case only to find the room had disappeared – gone, knocked down, literally flattened without any reference to the TU Side to make way for an open plan office to accommodate incoming staff.

That’s the way to do it!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

beneficium accipere libertatem est vendere
To accept a favour is to sell one’s freedom
Publilius Syrus (1st century BC)


GOVERNMENT TO OFFER TRAINING TO HELP LONG-TERM EMPLOYED BACK ON THE DOLE

The government has today launched its new Train in Vain programme, an ambitious project to move millions of long-term employed Britons onto the dole.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said:

'High numbers of the UK workforce haven't set foot in a jobcentre in over a decade, and many of the forms are now a completely different colour.'

The move is expected to save the jobs of up to 3000 Jobcentreplus workers, who had been hit hard by several years of unrelenting prosperity.

Wendy Cross, Operations Director of Jobcentreplus said:

'This is a real shot in the arm for Britain's minor functionaries. Nothing was getting people in the door - we tried coffee bars, soft furnishings and even just giving the money to anyone who turned up with their arm in a cast. The new programme means we can look in detail at the career aspirations of people who have recently been in work, then offer them the first thing that comes along, because otherwise we stop their money. We're going to get the country moving.'

The government has also promised to tackle barriers to unemployment by ensuring the widest range of people are out of work.

'For many years the system has favoured the workshy, the low skilled and lone parents,' argues Cross, 'but finally we have opened up the benefits network to investment bankers, airline pilots and lawyers. If the government continues to steer the same economic course then I think it's safe to say that Britain will end up with one of the most highly skilled unemployed workforces in Europe, if not the world.'

Good news for benefit claimants

In a shock move designed to alleviate some of the worry that these uncertain times provoke, the government has announced that anyone losing their job due to the current financial crisis can take part in a new scheme. Any newly unemployed person who can find a Jobcentre that is open, and manages to make an appointment to see somebody will be entered into a free draw for the chance of their claim being looked at within 8 weeks. Terms and conditions will apply, and these will be announced at a later date.

Swap-around benefit reforms 'will halve claims’

The government has also announced changes to the benefit system which will halve the number of claims and double the efficiency of the system, a DWP spokesperson announced today.

“Basically, what we are proposing is that claimants come into the Jobcentreplus office, undergo a Work Focused Interview, and then swap round to the other side of the desk. The newly unemployed jobcentreplus staff-member will then come in and undergo a Work Focused Interview. They then swap round to the other side, and so on, until someone has to go home and feed the kids.”