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Down in the DWP dug-outs the weary tread of the troops returning from the Easter Offensive is muffled by the flurries of snow drifting across the old barbed-wire. But there's nothing like a few mugs of strong spirit to restore the cheer to the faces of our members, unlike those of Management who are facing problems they never foresaw when they embarked on their campaign for total domination in the Department. True over half the cuts they wanted have been achieved without redundancies or the complete collapse of the department. But attrition and the continuing boom in London has led to higher rates of desertion that even they imagined and they're having to recruit for the first time in five years to fill the vacancies. The Easter Offensive has been hailed as gloriously successful by General Wylie in the PCS LEEDS bunker, as negotiations with the foe are seemingly back on track. The reality is that management are only forced back to the table because inflation has soared above the intervention point. Still, a victory is a victory, isn't it?

Entertainments may be few and far between on the London DWP frontline but East London members were looking forward to the bunfight between OLIU RAHMAN, a SWP/Respect stooge, and "Independent Left" harpie, SUE CATTEN, for the Chair at the AGM in February. Sixty stalwarts turned up at STRATFORD LIBRARY for the crack but they were sadly disappointed. OILY, a Tower Hamlets councillor on the SWP's "Left List" in the Greater London elections in May, withdrew to spend more time counting his Councillor expenses, so CATTEN was elected unopposed. EDDIE FLEMING and the other guest speaker billed for the AGM couldn't be bothered to come, so the rest of the afternoon was spent listening to turgid reports and ploughing through 25 motions and a five-part constitutional amendment.

CATTEN, appropriately enough, had two motions down on domestic violence (PFL passim ) but real debate only began when Nigel Prendergast proposed getting rid of the anachronistic Grade Reservation for certain Branch Officerships, whereby if an AO and EO stand for the same post, the AO gets it without an election. "Independent Left" supremo CHARLIE "Motormouth" McDONALD, backed by Ms CATTEN, argued to retain this archaic set of rules - designed to keep the Executive Officer "bosses" out, but they were easily seen off and the motion was carried. Curiously enough there were no censure motions but a newer Branch member and Motormouth protégé called CLIVE DUNCAN, amused everybody with his drunken ramblings.

It's election time again and the Grandees, 4TM, TROTSKY'S INDEPENDENT TRADERS aka the "Independent Left", the PCS DEMOCRATS and the SECRET LEFT are all joining in the fun with their usual smears and lies that give PCS campaigning that special zest so lacking in other unions.

But in the Home Office the uneasy LUNITY/DEMOCRAT alliance that overthrew the FERRETT regime two years ago is more focused on wooing back members of the scab "Immigration Services Union" now that the "ISU" is on its last legs. (See our ISU pages for our earlier opinion of ISU). This could bring in several thousand quid in new subs for Falconcrest and it would almost certainly breathe new life into the 4TM-aligned PCS 21 bloc that lost control following the departure of their führer, JOHN FERRETT. FERRETT, who left active union work to pursue his career in the Labour Party, as always, has had the last laugh. He's now on Labour's A-List for a "safe" seat at the next general election.

Meanwhile out in the sticks there's been an unexpected development which may or may not, be connected to a certain Valuation Office Agency Committee lady. In the Colchester office the local rep made a foolish blunder of making fun of the principal valuer in an email to members and then emailing it back by mistake to the "tosser" (as he wittily put it in the incriminating email) in question !

Oh dear...

However, it doesn't stop there. The local rep has now had a verbal warning and a witch-hunt for inappropriate e-mail use has now begun. What is REALLY interesting is that many think thick 4TM "Essex girl" JEANETTE BROOKE had given this the okay and fingered her LUNITY foe, one PAUL NOAKES, as an e-mail abuser as well! The office manager treads in fear of the formidable Madame BROOKE but fortunately for NOAKES, 99 per cent of his boring emails are PCS related and the rest are along the lines of beer at lunch-time when he's in the Colchester office.

Further down the thin red line PAUL BARNSLEY, the MoD FTO who joined PCS after leaving GMB in "mysterious circumstances", has a novel method of managing staff. As you may know there have been problems with accommodation in Brighton for this year's Conference, so much so that the member of staff responsible for booking the MoD GEC into rooms had to spread the booking over three hotels. You'd think they'd be grateful, but the MoD GEC like to all be together as any visitor to their "social" will testify, so rather than express gratitude to the beleaguered member of staff they decided that a letter of complaint was in order. Step forward Paul Barnsley, manager of said member of staff. Rather than take any management action of his own he heroically decided to draft the letter himself for the GEC to sign.

Magna est veritas et praevalet

Truth is great and it will prevail



A previously unscreened and forgotten episode of Dragon’s Den has been found in the BBC archives and will be shown as a special before the forthcoming series. The footage, which dates back to the 1st century, shows the four Apostles pitching their book “The New Testament” to the dragons of the time. The BBC has released a transcript of part of the encounter:

St Matthew - “Hello, my name’s St Matthew and these are my partners St Mark, St Luke and St John, and we’re looking for 5000 shekels for a 20% stake in our company Christianity to publish our book The New Testament. We think it’s the greatest story ever told.”

St Luke – “As you will see from the copies we’ve just given you all, the book is a follow up to the Old Testament, and follows the life and death and life of Jesus Christ. We think the book will sell all over the world, there are countless opportunities for merchandising and we also think we could also sell the movie rights once movies have been invented. We’d spend the money on starting a global religion and building churches to promote sales.”

Peter Jones – “Hello saints, I’m Peter. This is a follow up to the Old Testament you say.”

St Matthew – “That’s right.”

Peter Jones – “Don’t you think that Old Testament 2 would be a better title? Especially if you’re thinking about movies.”

St Matthew – “We hadn’t thought of that.”

Theo Pathitis – “I’ve just had a quick look through it – can’t see as much smiting as in the Old Testament…”

St Luke – “No, this story's all about a great man, the son of God in fact, who comes to live with us and heals the sick and teaches everyone how to lead a better life.”

Theo Pathitis – “I can’t see many people wanting to buy that. You tell them it’s the follow up to the Old Testament and they’re going to expect smiting and stuff. This isn’t going to sell. It clearly isn’t the greatest story ever told. And for that reason, I’m out.”

Peter Jones – “What about plagues? Readers will expect a good plague or two.”

St Matthew – “No, no plagues.”

Peter Jones – “People turning into pillars of salt? Eating forbidden apples? Men losing their strength after cutting their hair? Armageddon?”

St Luke – “Well, he does perform a few miracles. And he does come back from the dead after being betrayed by his friend and executed by an evil and oppressive regime.”

Peter Jones – “Ah, I expect he wreaks a terrible revenge on those who betrayed and persecuted him then.”

St Luke – “Um, not really.”

Peter Jones – “Not really?”

St Luke – “No. He, kind of, forgives them.”

Peter Jones – “He forgives them?”

St Luke – “Yeah.”

Peter Jones – “I’m out.”

You can find out what the other dragons thought about the New Testament in Dragons Den: The Unseen Footage, on BBC1 tonight.

The Office for National Statistics have refuted suggestions that the inclusion of none essentials in their figures are masking the true level of inflation. Items used to produce the figures are "The sort of thing ordinary people are buying."

Analysists have confirmed the rate of 2.2% using the following items: Bread +32.9% DVD (with Newspaper) -82% Petrol +20.9% Eggs +39.3% Inkjet Printer -52% Cheese +15.9% HD-DVD Player -99% Sugar +9.2% Mortgage +10.4% Memory Stick -73% Newspaper(no DVD) +15.7% Footballer's Wages +63.7% Divorce Settlement +74.2% Tesco Value Cat Food -16.6% Organic Chicken +38.2% Line of coke -22.3% Milk +13.8% Meat +12.9% Totals -344.9 +347.1 = 2.2%

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, said that this proved the government's pledge to empower people by giving them a choice on how they spent their income, thereby choosing their own level of inflation. Anorexic footballing divorcees would actually see an increase in their disposable income, whilst those who insisted in eating foods containing calories might be slightly worse off.

The truth of the T5 launch was of course stranger than fiction as the whole lot ground to a halt after a few hours due to failure of the baggage handling system. Monty Python were reported to be "worried" (listen to the Contractual Obligation album).


Passenger usability and experience test exercises at Heathrow's new Termnial 5 were branded an outstanding success just days before the official Royal opening ceremoney, as BA flight crews and baggage handlers went on test strikes that crippled every state of the art system.

A Unison spokesperson said "I think that our all our strike scenarios went well to cause maximum misery to the travelling public and though some of our members kept forgetting it was all pretend."

In one of the strike tests a baggage handler was immediately dismissed for stealing from imaginary luggage and co-workers walked out in support, whilst catering employees walked out in solidarity.

Even the Air Traffic Controller's "work to rule" had a knock on effect as all flights in and out of the UK were disrupted or cancelled.

The organisers of the tests dismissed an unofficial test which tested whether there was enough space for a female air cabin crew member to shag the airplane captain in a plane toilet.

A member of the public who signed up online to test the terminal's facilities took his wife and 4 screaming kids along. "I have to say the new terminal is everything I expected really and more. There's nothing for the kids to do, the toilets were blocked and late gate changes to the far side of the building that I couldn't make out over the tannoy. I can't wait for the summer holidays to Spain."