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BY JUDAS ISCARIOT - September 2008 - Welcome Back

The troops are returning to the trenches after summer leave to face the weary task of draining the flooded dug-outs, preparing the guns for the next big push, scrabbling around for the latest circulars from Falconcrest that have been gathering dust over the past few weeks and worrying about the global credit squeeze and its implications for the mortgage.

Still it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good and back at the Chateau there's been a collective sigh of relief at the news that the sale of PCS HQ has fallen through because of the slump in the property market (see link). The developers are Delancey, who are specialist investment advisers who claim to have "an unmatched background in the property sector". Their plan for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction includes a huge three storey shopping mall but the real bread-winner is the 500 apartments in two proposed 30 storey residential blocs that above tower over the station.

Desultory talks with Delancey over the sale of Falconcrest have continued over the past 18 months. The developers did offer an above market sum for the property, which PCS owns outright, but the developers have been unable to meet the almost impossible PCS demand for a price that would enable the union to buy a similar property that is equally close to central London. Now they've wisely decided to put the whole project on the back-burner with the price of domestic property down 10 per cent this year and the expectation that it will sink even further following the collapse of the US sub-prime market.

MARK SERWOTKA has issued a statement noting that "it appears that in the current economic climate Delancey has decided to re-consider its plans and again delayed making a formal proposal to PCS . After very careful consideration PCS has decided that unless a meaningful commitment to negotiate is received from Delancey by a set date in the early autumn, then we will notify Delancey and Wandsworth Council of our intention to remain at 160 Falcon Road".

MAREK made his usual mark at TUC in Brighton this year to keep his place amongst the great and good of the awkward squad on the General Council baying for Brown's blood after failing to get anything out of the Government at Labour's policy forum at Warwick this year. MAREK was certainly pleased at the publicity he got for his keynote speeches to Congress but others were not so happy - least of all HR supremo, Mr NIGEL 'Pieman' PIERCE, who invited himself to the PCS delegation in Brighton in the hope of freeloading at all the receptions and functions that the TUC holds to compensate for the lack of any serious policies to confront the current attack on the living standards of the members they claim to represent. PIEMAN, who is loathed by virtually everyone he meets, did not have any business at the TUC but expected PCS to pick up his hotel bill and got away with it for a couple of days. But it all ended when some of his hapless underlings at Brighton on legitimate business plucked up the courage to raise his presence with the General Secretary. MAREK then reminded NIGEL that he could stay for as long as he liked as long it was in his own time and he paid for it himself. Cue swift exit of the splendidly proportioned HR supremo.

PIEMAN has been sniffing round LEON BAUGH and HUGH LANNING these days cos he's got wind of a new Falconcrest staff review which will not exclude the personnel department. NIGEL's been offering to take responsibility for all sorts of menial duties at HQ to puff up his job – possibly because he's discovered that his post is entirely the gift of PCS and that in CPSA days the head of personnel was the General Secretary himself. Some are now saying that perhaps this is another CPSA tradition that should be revived, especially in these straitened financial times…

But will Hugh supply the extras that Nigel craves?

When one door closes another one opens so they say and maybe it'll be true for Midlands SNO CHRIS MAY (the ugly one with the big ears). He's been lobbying LANNING to make him "SNO for England" in the forthcoming review. MAY is the full-timer whose US-style camping mobile home was mentioned in the last communiqué. What we didn't know was how he acquired his luxurious travel trailer. It transpires that when he was interviewed for the Midlands job he was less than happy to learn that no car went with the appointment. Not to worry, he was given a £10,000 interest free loan to help him out. Meantime the naked ambition of the man continues unabated.

When CHRIS FRAUD was victimised he took his thirty pieces of silver (£50,000 plus at the current rate of exchange) and ran. Others like EDDIE FLEMING are not so lucky. EDDIE was the Chair of the PCS Child Support Agency Hastings branch dismissed last February on the grounds that he had allegedly repeatedly failed to turn up on numerous occasions to essential training courses when he said he would, sometimes because he was carrying out union duties.

His case was taken up by the union nationally with MAREK himself saying: "Union reps who stand up for their colleagues and service users are the frontline defence of the public services we all rely on. Management who will dismiss a dedicated rep like Eddie, while tolerating an active fascist in the same workplace, have woefully distorted values."

It ended at a claim for reinstatement at an industrial tribunal in Ashford in July. Since then there's been silence from Falconcrest and the GEC has been told not to make the tribunal's judgment public.

In fact poor old EDDIE got nothing. He was found by default to have been unfairly dismissed because CSA failed to follow their internal process. But it was also found that, if they had, he would have been dismissed anyway. As a result they recommended that nil compensation be paid.

PCS and DAVE RICHARDS were criticised for prolonging the process (RICHARDS cancelled countless meetings and failed to turn up for others) and it was found that the case for unfair dismissal did not stack up. Management pressed ahead with meetings when RICHARDS cancelled re-arranged meetings at short notice (in the absence of Eddie). It is for management being a little too reckless in going ahead with one meeting that they rendered the judgement of automatic unfair dismissal.

EDDIE, like many reps, avoided official duties by use of H&S/Personal Case facility time. However in the face of a hard-line management he didn't play the game (give them the odd day, do mandatory training courses) and he walked into the traps set for him. The other Hastings reps played along, did the training and filled in the diaries etc etc.

RICHARDS himself (on the GEC & NEC) has not done a stroke of work, nor actually visited his own office in a decade. I suspect the advice he gave to EDDIE was sloppy and lazy, and only when it was too late did he realise how serious it would get. The fight to re-instate FLEMING will go on but the real point here is the CSA TUS, and the hopelessness of the bunch of layabouts in post. Messrs RICHARDS and CAVANAGH are a standing joke with Management. They suffer late trains, bereavements and ill children regularly and don't turn up to critical meetings. The full timer, DAVE WILKINSON, is little better. It's important because CSA /CMEC management are re-writing policies on everything, and this lot aren't up to it: they've just failed to stop management imposing compulsory use of headsets in the CSA call-centres without proper aural benchmarking. A harsh analysis? Ask Eddie....

Speaking of Chris FRAUD, it appears he's had a falling out with colleagues in the tiny political sect Alliance for Workers Liberty and started his own movement - the "Commune/Group of International Communists" whose inaugural public meeting was entirely suited to FRAUD's brand of shouty politics with a small "p". This is how the AWL reported the meeting.

Uncaptive minds?

Submitted on 3 September, 2008 - 10:3

On the evening of Monday 1 September, the new group the Commune/Group of International Communists (two of whose three known supporters are recently ex-AWL members David Broder and Chris Ford) attempted to ban the AWL from their first public meeting.

When we arrived at the venue for their - publicly advertised - meeting on workers' struggles in 1968-74, we were told by Chris Ford, before we had opened our mouths, that it was not a public meeting, that we had come to disrupt and that we should ".. off". After ten or so minutes of arguing, David Broder, to his credit, let us in; that was followed, however, by repeated attempts to get us to leave; we were told by the third Commune supporter that if we didn't she would "make a scene". After very calmly and reasonably refusing to be banned, we were allowed to speak; but whenever one of us raised an issue that the comrades didn't like, the chair attempted to shut us up (aided by the person who had promised to make a scene leaping up and, well, making a scene). The same happened when one of our comrades began her contribution by objecting to this sort of behaviour.

The building of a healthy left requires a culture of free and open debate; not the replication on a micro-level of the SWP's practice of bans and exclusions. It is particularly weird coming from a group whose members claim, falsely, that they were subject to bureaucratic suppression in the AWL. The idea that our very calm and reasonable interventions constituted disruption in any sense but that of clear ideas disrupting abject political confusion suggests hostility to free debate - as, in spades, does the attempt to exclude us from the meeting. Do better, comrades!

Meanwhile the old-timers pause to remember those who have fallen including two veteran CPSA activists who were also good friends of the PFLCPSA. The first was Ken Thomas, General Secretary of CPSA from 1976 to 1982 who passed away in August at the age of 81. The second was GEORGE LOBO (see ARMS obituary), another CPSA stalwart who died in May at the grand old age of 87. They certainly had a good run for their money much like the full-timers who took their voluntary early bath and filled their boots last month. Some of us turned up to the farewell bash for MICKEY DUGGAN and IAN LAWRENCE at the Civil Service Sports Club in Westminster which started at 3.00 pm and didn't end until 11.00 pm. Half the glitterati of CPSA days were there including RAY ALDERSON and his formidable wife, CHRIS KIRK and a number of luminaries who turned up to drink themselves silly at the free bar. Needless to say nothing of any interest happened - which just about sums them all up these days.

Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit

Add little to little and there will be a big pile

Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD)

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OTHER NEWS

GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS PHOTO SHOOT GOES HORRIBLY WRONG INTERNATIONAL NEWS
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Billy Bunter 'Not Obese'

The parents of William Samuel George Bunter breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when health officials reasssured them that their son was not actually obese, but only 'very overweight'. Colonel Bunter, who describes his own figure as 'generous' expressed satisfaction that Billy, whose waist thickness is approximately the same as his height, has been vindicated at last. "From now on they will have to call him the Splendidly Proportioned Owl of the Remove."

Billy was unable to comment fully, having being woken from a nap in Wharton's study where he had eaten all the cake. But he did manage to say, "Gerroff you beast, taint rising bell...leggo my ear...yarroo!"

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Vigilante groups to publish clear-up rates

Vigilante groups, Angry Mobs and old style Posses are to publish their clear-up rates and other performance related stats, in an effort to make them more accountable.

The figures will then be put into national tables, so people interested in joining a vigilante group can see how they perform against each other.

As well as clear-up rates, it is expected there will be details on number of paediatricians killed by mistake, number of windmills burned down, number of pitchforks requisitioned, and quantities of tar and feathers used.

One Angry Mob commented however, that this would create a two-tier vigilante system, with the best performing groups being given first choice of victims to torment, and drive underground.

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Ne nostra in fundamenta subeamus

Let us not climb up our own bottoms

barrabas 2008 (after others)