ROUND AND ABOUT
by Judas Iscariot - Early October 2002
IT’S BEEN a remarkable year for PCS. REAMSBOTTOM has gone leaving his followers dazed and confused. The Moderati were taught a lesson which is only just sinking in and MAREK has been strutting the greater union stage at TUC and various demonstrations as General Secretary in his own right. He’s firmly in the saddle but what about the horse?
Well, there’s the rub. Young MARK sits on a very uneasy steed. On the NEC he can only count on the support of the LUNITY minority bloc and at Falconcrest he has few trusted friends and those he has like ADAMS and McCREADIE will soon be collecting their pension books. The rest of the old CPSA crowd is dominated by the JOCKOCRACY. The other jobsworths appointed during the long tenure of the Moderates consist of crawlers and BL84 turncoats who were willing to do BARRY’s bidding to get those immense salaries and perks.
But it’s a different picture in the high-caste arena. Some are former communists elevated when the “Society” was dominated by the SECRET LEFT during and before the CHRISTIE era. Others see themselves as “professional negotiators” above the factional politics of the membership though this didn’t stop them identifying with ME FIRST when it was led by DONNELLAN and LORD UNDY. They expected HUGH LANNING to succeed but though he failed he’s all they’ve got.
LANNING has always had his cronies, like Alistair Graham’s “Family” or Barry’s “Jockocracy”. Though dubbed the “TUFTY CLUB” by the Moderati it has developed from an informal gathering of toadies to a secret full-time officers faction which calls itself “PCS Friends”. And it has attracted one or two former CPSA officials like DUGGAN (one of the high profile ex-Trot, BL84 leaders who jumped ship for RAMSBLADDER’s thirty pieces of silver) and friends of the late PETER THOMASON, who as old CPSA hands will know was a less than covert supporter of the BL84 machine.
Most of them are in the Labour Party and some of them will still describe themselves as “socialists” or “left of centre”. But their core-philosophy is self-preservation. And what they fear the most is senior full-time officer elections – which as LANNING discovered to his cost, puts the juiciest posts at the discretion of a volatile domestic electorate – the membership. While resigned to the inevitable extension of the ballot principle because the MODS and the TROTS want it they hope to stall for as long as they can while building up a body of good-will amongst the members some of them will have to woo to keep their jobs.
The modest restructuring agreed at the September NEC reflects their influence. LANNING has at last been given something to do. He’s appropriately been put in charge of balloting – something he knows little about but he’s eager to learn. BOYLE has been punished by being transferred to the Home Office where his life will be made as miserable as hell by the Assorted Trots who dominate that department. Further changes will come later and that gives “PCS Friends” more time to lobby. The Moderati, who still have the majority on the NEC, are not going to quibble. There’s only two items on their immediate agenda. The first to promote a recognised leader of the Group and the second is to retain the support of their newly-won allies, the Inland Revenue Membership First (IRMF).
“Mr PRIESTLEY” as he is now more respectfully called likes to be known for his caution and the Mods really have no other choice. They need a year to get over the RAMSBLADDER debacle, they believe that with the IRMF on their side they can easily see off the challenge of the rump of Me First now in the less than capable hands of NOSFERUNDY and SARAH JONES and contain LEFT UNITY.
But what about PCS Friends you may ask? Surely their platform goes beyond simply filling their boots? Well see for yourself. The minutes of their first meeting, back in January, reflect their thinking and their fears. The minutes of the meeting this April reveal their agenda.
It is indeed the same old tune. But with a different meaning since Barry’s been gone.
FRIENDS GROUP NEXT MEETING -
SATURDAY 27 APRIL 2002
This date was chosen because it is the first available after the NEC election results. It is also obviously sensible that we meet before conference.
Attached is a contacts list to enable those with email to discreetly pass on these papers to those in the group currently without this facility. Each e-mailer has a few people without e-mail to contact. They in turn contact others. Please do your assigned bit.
The election results will play a substantial part in determining the environment in which we will have to operate over the next 2 years. With the likelihood of SFTO elections early in 2003 we also face the prospect of politicised DGS and AGS posts as well as the GS post.
These events will inevitably set the context for our discussions on 27 April. You will be sent a detailed agenda soon. Key issues will include:
• Playing our parts in enabling PCS to successfully face the challenges ahead, in the long as well as short term
• Helping set PCS agendas
• Making our conference event a success. It is planned to be a meeting for PCS Labour Party supporters on the evening of Monday 13 May - details later.
• Communicating, debating, supporting - using email and the web
• Building networks,
• Building the group
• Meeting costs
The venue for the meeting will again be Friends House on Euston Road. Starting time will be 11.00am, with closure at 3.00pm. Please do your best to be there. As before there will be a pooled fare.
The notes of our first meeting are attached.
Hugh Lannlng Jim McAuslan
The inaugural meeting of PCS Friends - Saturday 12 January 2002
Following introductions from Jim and Hugh in which both provided their views about the current PCS climate, the meeting agreed to consider the following question by way of discussion groups:
• So, why had we all given up a Saturday?
Three main themes emerged from our discussions.
Theme 1. Officers as individuals
The gathering gave expression to a need for community. Many colleagues felt isolated and fearful that the prevailing climate in PCS was not respectful or trustful - whether between FTOs or between lay officers and FTOs. This isolation was felt across the union, but for those in regions it was doubly so. It need not be this way. The number of us who had given up a Saturday and were prepared to risk the ridicule of those on the extremes showed that there is a silent majority which should have the confidence to speak out. There was no disguising the differences on policy, but mutual respect, a willingness to listen and a preparedness to leave baggage behind should be the hallmark of our approach. In short, it is pointless blaming the factions if we cannot trust each other and seek to model better behaviour.
Theme 2. The professional cadre
Many examples were given of the FTO role being challenged and undermined. In some areas this was deliberate, and downright nasty. Elsewhere we were seen as the scapegoats when elected people couldn't agree. But contrast this with the growing number of areas where lay representation was drying up and the FTO was the only official.
Ours is both a representative and leadership role. We operate within a democratic structure but our views and worth must also count. We need to find better ways of this being fed into all levels of the union. And as officers we can use our experience to guide PCS on a better course than the extremes now offer.
Theme 3. The future of PCS.
Many present had the feeling that it was all about to go terribly wrong. The riches financial and otherwise, bestowed on our new union were being squandered. Prime examples included: our ability to influence government, the potential for growth, the uniqueness of our rule book, the chance to leave baggage behind.
The ease with which we got into the DWP dispute and the perception that events had overtaken us; the reputation we were earning as a pale version of RMT; the absence of a coherent agenda to attract members and
The FTO meeting on 30/31 was an important vehicle to use socially and it was agreed to try and network further here informally.
• Lay structures
Building the next generation was seen as THE challenge if the union was to go forward. We needed to find ways to involve young people, non-elected roles to encourage participation of new individuals; the image of the role of representative would have to change.
Factions exist and are a reality. In the real world there will be disputes. The NEC is not seen as an effective forum for "inclusive" participation, new ways of having discussions on key issues are vital to developing plans and propositions. FTO's can play a pro-active role using their influence to facilitate sensible debate and outcomes.
The NEC Plan was a key vehicle for putting forward solutions, influencing the agenda and an outlet through which to channel 'input'. The Membership Survey by Cranfield contained useful material to help us develop these aims. Group and BDC Conferences were an opportunity to network.
We should not be ashamed of ourselves or what we are doing: "Out the opposition; out ourselves!"1 Project a positive image of FTO's and their role.
Re-establishing relations with the Labour Party were key. The political direction and image of the union would have to be tackled positively developing two way dialogue and local contacts. Maybe informal seminars were a means of developing new relations with the Party.
It was felt that there was a lack of leadership in the union, that employer decisions were inconsistent. The absence of a clear 'chief was a practical obstacle that might ease in June, but it was also a political opportunity to fill the vacuum by establishing a new and clear political direction.
• The Union
Delivering for members was the objective not short- term ambitions. So we must focus on delivering - maintaining a balance between managing and negotiating. Personal work/life balance was a precious commodity to nurture.
To do this we had to take the opportunity to empower and devolve responsibility and overcome the blockages in the union, be they structures, people, information or technology.
Various specific actions were identified in the closing session together with volunteers to take individual projects forward.
Meeting of Friends group in April
Also a suggestion of having a Meeting Point - a cafe on a specified day - to meet informally. Not a pub or smoking room. (Dave to organise?)
Socialise around 30/31 at PCS Victoria and thereafter.
The network needed to grow to survive: everyone was encouraged to Recruit a Friend
Set up e-mail network: all to supply addresses - Kim to organise.
Establish a co-ordinating team. Numerous volunteers and ideas. Veronica to call group together to discuss who would do what. Two areas for discussion were the FTO role and growing people to become potential FTO'S.
Relations with the Labour Party: Jim agreed to co-ordinate identifying contacts and friends in the Party.
Build support for change:
NEC elections - encourage voter participation Support SFTO's in future elections
lan volunteered to undertake written communications within the group, Graham S. offered to assist.
It was felt that the day was a successful first step - with a good, positive, friendly atmosphere. To wish the ends meant providing the means. This would require committing support. Everyone should try and do something positive, but realistic. Networking was the constantly re-iterated theme of the day - networking with all the stakeholders in the union; amongst ourselves, with staff, with other officers,
representatives and the political extremes that were suffocating progressive debate were also cited as key problems that needed to be addressed.
So, where next?
Nothing short of a major change would be needed if we were not to go down the tubes. Attracting and building a new generation of FTO and lay reps, better processes, a focus on delivering quality, using our foresight and political influence to avoid costly disputes and treating all with respect would be key here.
We all had a role to play. The officers present were not about undermining the democratic structures, or the office of general secretary or of setting up a secret society that would operate parallel to the rest of PCS. The success of PCS as an open and inclusive organisation was our aim. It is worth fighting for; PCS's history is just beginning.
But there was also a hard edge to all this. The NEC elections are nearly upon us. SFRO elections are probably just around the corner. And no sooner are we clear of those than the 2004/2006 elections will arrive and with them uncharted electoral categories. All this on top of a growing tendency for reps to focus on their area at the expense of taking an interest in the national scene. But if we don't do something to reverse the trend them who will?
Ideas for the future
During the afternoon we sought to identify short and medium term ideas for action - be they at the centre, in our areas of influence or personal.
The ideas centred around a number of keys themes:
People, meetings and networks
Developing trust amongst us would take time and only come through meeting and expressing honest and open views.
This group needs to meet again and a date was to be arranged in April [TBC]. Account should also be taken of the fact that weekends are very precious! However a whole range of other contacts needed to be made amongst friends, officers and staff and lay representatives. The day concluded with a general commitment to "recruit a friend,". We would have to take risks to cross-boundaries and break stereotypes.
At a personal level we needed to support each other, mentor and shadow others and be encouraging to all. Staff at all levels needed to be involved more in the union and helped to develop. The Academy proposal in the NEC Plan should be taken forward - we had to find ways to develop the right people and utilise the key contacts and expertise that others possess in this field.
11 April 2002
Get e-mail access
Communications between us would obviously be much easier with as many of us as possible having access to e-mail. With internet based e-mail there is no need for you to have a computer at home or an account with an internet service provider or any of the other, usual paraphernalia of e-mail or home computing.
All you need is access to the internet. This could be at home, at work, at a friends', in an internet cafe or in a public library. Via the internet you can set up an e-mail account and then send & receive e-mail. And the account costs nothing.
There are a numerous internet based e-mail companies. The largest is Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) - now owned by Microsoft - although biggest is not always best. Others include Lycos(login.mail.lycos.com), Postmaster (www.postmaster.co.uk) and Yahoo (www.yahoo.com).
Using your work (PCS) e-mail account for private matters is not recommended. Privacy cannot be guaranteed.
|These people ...
||... should speak to these people
||... who should speak to these people
||Janet Keene Angela Maughan Sheila Pickman
||Johanna Baxter Karen Crawford Malcolm Tetley
|Mike Duggan Colin Edwards
||( Graham Steel ) Rose Willis
Alan Churchard Eddie Reilly Steve Farley
Albie O'Neill Tony Gallagher Dave Wilkinson
||Colin Sambrook Neil March
||Nelly Takia Wright
||Jeff Evans Graham Belchamber
||Philip Bickerstaffe Dean Rogers John Thornton
||Dave Newlyn Theresa Busby Barbara Blake
||Jeremy Gautrey Prank Campbell Ted Elsey
||Charles Cochrane Phil Madelin Alan Maloney