THE POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF CPSA
FREEDOM! UNITY! SOCIALISM!
REVOLUTION UNTIL VICTORY!
ROUND AND ABOUT
Here comes summer, oh happy days - and as we wearily trudged back from Brighton the promise of hazy, lazy days in the sun where we can forget more than top secret documents on Surrey-bound trains from London Waterloo beckons. Well for some it does but it's not all sodas, pretzels and beer at Falconcrest.
Two problems awaited the Grandees return to Falconcrest; the first being the worldwide industrial strategy set by conference following a spirited repartee from MAREK. Well he had plenty of rehearsals, visiting all the Group Conferences and the Brighton Rotary Club by mistake on his travels, where he apparently received a standing ovation from those old biddies who could lift themselves from their wheelchairs or balance on their zimmers. One old bird said he went down well with the local 'blue-rinsers'. Whatever did she mean?
The second? Well, that's 'Operation Exceedus', masterminded by LEON BAUGH and HR supremo, MR NIGEL 'PIEMAN' PIERCE, AKA the plan to rid Falconcrest of the flotsam and jetsam that remains dotted about the place and maybe some folk who might be quietly considered to be a threat to the aspirations of LANNING'S reported jobswap campaign ( see PFL 2008 Conference reports ).
Many nervously awaited the outcome of high command's deliberations as to who will get the golden shilling. This of course depended on their caste within the temple as well as their film star wages. Whilst not one person who has expressed a serious interest has reportedly even had the benefit (or is it a fate worse than death?) of an interview with PIEMAN, some poor rats have been spotted scurrying around with their mates in the hope of picking up the juicier of the morsels on offer.
As is usual for PCS , the original timetable has slipped alarmingly, and with the two pension schemes trustees still yet to consider the Grandees shortlists, this may take aeons to sort out. This may mean that some individuals well laid plans or alternative job offers might just go tits up while they await the 'thank you very much now you can fuck off' notice.
Still, according to the leaked management briefing it's only 25 people that can go: a mere 6 per cent of the workforce. The plan seems to be that the work hitherto undertaken by the running rats will be generously shared out to inexperienced and less than willing minions whose wages are but a mere bagatelle when compared to those on the VSER gravy train that may be about to leave Clapham Injunction. Good Trade Union practice, that; no doubt the friendly GMB wallahs will have a bit to say about this little gem?
Leading the charge to the exit, both GEOFF LEWTAS (Senior National Officer, the General Secretary's Pay Supremo and architect of the current National PCS Pay Strategy) and IAN 'FLASH' LAWRENCE (National Officer, generally loathed by the ruling bloc) both applied for the vacant Assistant General Secretary post at NAPO (the Probation Officers' Union). After comparing the relative abilities, achievements & skills FLASH got the job!
Others definitely on the list include MICKEY DUGGAN, MICK McCANN, MARTIN BOYLE, EDDIE SPENCE, DAVE NEWLYNN, TONY JARVIS and GRAHAM CORBETT. They now have until 20 th July to decide on whether to accept the golden handshake, and it all apparently needs the two Pension Schemes Trustees to rubber-stamp the deal. Another 12 names are in the offing and the roll of honour that has been put together on the PCS gossip-line suggests that this is the biggest clear out since ADOLF HITLER's Night of the Long Knives back in the 1930s.
There is also a rumour doing the rounds that MALONEY and LEWTAS may be about to scarper under their CPSA pension entitlements which is why LEWTAS was seeking a position at nearby NAPO. Meanwhile, the Grandees are praying that Land Securities don't table a too good to refuse offer on FALCONDUMP or else everyone will want to bugger off!
BOFF is aiming for a far greater link between performance and pay amongst PCS staff. His approach, being described as the most hard-line GMB have ever seen, is to have a far stronger link between the amount of work and quality of that work and pay. He intends introducing a new appraisal system that links performance, development, training and pay that runs along the same sorts of lines as current Civil Service management thinking. GMB are opposed to his plans as they stand.
It also seems that discussions about the SFTO elections have begun in earnest. The PFL kite-flying strategy on this subject (first started in 2007 when we flushed out Lanning's intention not to retire) seems to have worked again. Lanning has poured cold water on the idea of a job-swap with Boff but that may be academic as Boff has been making no secret of the view that he sees himself as the next GS. There's likely to be a few twists in this story before the close of nominations next year.
One person who won't be going yet is the loathsome and censorious NIGEL (who ate all the pies?) PIERCE who reputedly made at least three - or was it five - visits to the Thistle breakfast trough each morning whilst lurking around at Brighton last May. The PIEMAN, already in trouble for threatening to complain to SERWOTKA after being caught sniffing around for free cakes in the Press Room at Conference, is in more hot water now that LEON has discovered that his PCS mobile phone bill (£300) is double that of the General Secretary's bill. That's equivalent to about 30 PCS members' subs for a month. If you think you might be one of those 30 subscribers you might wish to enquire whether this represents good value to you.
It is often said that if PCS is the Beirut of the trade union movement, the Home Office Group is Hezbollah, an analogy referred to by Group Sec PAUL O'CONNOR while commenting on his first year in charge. For as long as anyone can remember the Home Office has been populated by reps who could start a fight in an empty room, notably the late lamented Mr FERRETT.
However, this year the group factions seem by and large to have laid down their weapons lately, with President HAMMOND's PCS 21 faction tamely agreeing to take a minority share of the GEC seats in exchange for keeping their leader in post, and the LUNITY majority agreeing to this rather than face a critical analysis of their actual performance (uniforms ballot anyone? pay negotiations?) at election time.
It's not clear yet whether weapons have been de-commissioned or are just being stored for later use, but the incoming GEC is presenting a unified face against the common enemy - ostensibly management's outrageous attacks on terms and conditions, more likely the arrival of several thousand customs officers and their branch structures in the ever re-branding Home Office Immigration Service (trading under the name of UK Border Agency since April but unlikely to stick with that for more than a year). Home Office reps of all factions were outraged by the National President's decision to remove all UKBA motions from the Group Conference this year (one survived because it still used the archaic term BIA) and to allow the Customs-drafted and somewhat anodyne Composite Motion 4 to take their place at National Conference.
With all the juicy stuff removed, the most memorable speech of the Home Office conference concerned the faux breast pocket on the new (and hated) immigration officer's uniform jacket. Veteran rep JOHN OLIVER spoke proudly of how his years as a union activist had brought him to a position to address such weighty issues - never mind below inflation pay increases, never mind withdrawal of allowances, never mind privatisation threats, but let's have a genuine breast pocket on the uniform we are supposed to be campaigning against wearing! That was probably the highlight, although AGS SUE SMITH's demonstration of how to wear the female uniform's polyester lupette also got my pulse racing.
All of which may explain Group President MARK HAMMOND's fine mood at the Thursday night social where he danced like a loon and even mounted the stage to play the bongos briefly. However, there is more to it than that, for while Hammond and his PCS 21 cohorts enjoyed a proletarian repast of frog's legs and rib-eye steak at Brighton's luxurious HOTEL DU VIN, they found themselves seated at the next table to BBC journalist ANDREW MARR and a frail-looking and wheelchair-bound GORE VIDAL. (I kid you not - MARR had just interviewed the great American man of letters for his Sunday show).
HAMMOND, fancying himself as something of a political intellectual, wasted no time in approaching the great political essayist and author with lavish and fawning praise, introducing himself as a future leading light of the British trade union movement. VIDAL and MARR exchanged a few pleasantries with the champions of the proletariat, but not surprisingly they made their excuses and left as soon as politely possible, not least because the champions of the proletariat were a bit pissed by then.
(Not being quite the political animal HAMMOND is, I may also have hastened their exit by complimenting a somewhat bemused MARR on the opening riff from " How Soon Is Now ?" Apparently that was a different Marr.)
On the way out of the restaurant, HAMMOND sat at the place the great man had occupied a few minutes earlier. "I'm sitting," he declared proudly, "in the same seat Gore Vidal was sitting in." I'm afraid it was up to me to point out that this was not the case, since GORE VIDAL had been sitting (as stated) in a wheelchair throughout the meal. MARK may know a lot about US politics but he's not all that observant!
Late on Wednesday night in the BLACK LION, Ronnie LUMSDALE (a recent 4TM joinee from the land of the missing discs HMRC Child Benefit Branch), decided to vent his spleen at all things LUnity to anyone who would listen. He turned to the person nearest to him and proceeded with a full 5 minute rant calling LUnity all "leftie bastards" and worse before someone pointed out he was talking to Dom McFADDEN, wannabee GRANDEE and top polling NEC member. McFADDEN just smiled back silently, though it is not known if he was merely unimpressed or was in fact too pissed to speak.
It wasn't a good week for first time delegate DUMSDALE. At the Revenue & Customs Group Conference he forget to merely stick his hand in the air when Mr BEAN asked if anyone objected to a change in standing orders and instead stood up and shouted "AYE, ME!". Proof positive that Kev McHUGH has a challenger to his crown of 'Stereotypical Thick Northern Bastard'.
Gold Badge nominee Steve RICHARDSON sent me a text message about his journey home to Durham from Conference "Can u believe this. Refused a drink in the Fiddlers, train ticket nicked at kings x tube. An extra £84 to get home & some twat does a survey & offers free use of a bike for half an hour." He did not divulge the name of the bike.
Now why's this interesting? Until recently, Kevin Doran was the bullying and much hated head of JCP in Scotland. I'm sure Scottish reps will have tales to tell - even senior managers breathed again when he went. In his latter days at JCP he tried to get his girlfriend a job as his deputy, but was unsuccessful. Shortly after taking up his new job, girlfriend Grace Kennedy was appointed operations director....
He lied to The Scottish Parliament and at Board meetings told fellow Directors that if they didn't like his style, they could fuck off. It appears that for him and his concubine the game is well and truly up.
possunt quia posse videntur
they can because they think they can
2008 Conference briefcase - "Rots when wet"
Those of you fortunate enough to stay away from Conference may not be aware that each year a free bag is issued to delegates to carry their documents around. These are generally useful, made from robust plastic and in great demand because reps use them for union business for the rest of the year. Any spares are mopped up and taken back to the branches.
This year, they were made from nice rough jute/hessian. This went down a treat with lady delegates and some delicate gentlemen who complained about the rough handle and the fact that it leeched fibres all over their designer togs. The loose fibres also posed a respiratory health risk. The build quality was poor, but we understand the bags were ethically sourced. So that's OK, then.
It soon became apparent that they have a nasty tendency to "biodegrade" during inclement weather, which is the normal weather we get in the UK, particularly if placed on wet surfaces such as the floor. You have been warned - there it is, printed on the bag "This bag is biodegradable" which is envirospeak for "Rots when wet". Not much use to reps after the first shower of rain. And environmentally misleading: true enough, the bag is made from sustainable resources and biodegradable, but the nylon webbing and plastic fasteners most certainly are not. Barrabas has a 1987 Conference plastic briefcase, still serviceable and in use (anyone want to send me a pic of an earlier one?). Delegates this year were chucking their "sacks" away in disgust by Thursday. I saw a delegate this week with a rather tatty bag "Blimey" (or words to that effect) "Still got it then?" "Yeah, I've kept it dry, but bits keep coming off it."
Think again, PCS. I'll also remind you that you should provide a range of warm, weatherproof hi-vis picket line clothing which will NOT be made from sackcloth. Expect to see motions covering all the above at next year's Conference unless you actually start promoting and protecting activists health. Do we need to wait another year?