For most of my working life, I was a trade union member. Firstly, the civil service union the CPSA and later, when it merged with another civil service union, the PCS. If I was still a civil servant, I would still be a trade union member, but certainly not a PCS member. Here’s why.
My experience is that when it came to politics, civil servants, certainly in the DWP, were like the rest of the population, which is to say middle-of-the-road, slightly left or slightly right. CPSA members usually elected a centrist National Executive Committee, even though the branches were controlled by those from the left or those from the far left. The union was not affiliated to any political party because members did not want it to be. PCS is different, even if the members are not.
The moderates have long gone from PCS and there is no meaningful mainstream left grouping either. Elections – when they actually take place – are between the far left and the far left. PCS is not affiliated to any political party, although you would be excused for thinking they were. Look at these examples from the PCS website:
‘The union’s annual delegate conference has previously agreed that a Jeremy Corbyn government would be in the interests of PCS members. We need to get the Tories out of government as soon as possible so a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government can transform the economy, invest in our public services and deliver on a range of pledges affecting PCS members, including fair pay and pensions, the restoration of national bargaining in the civil service, and an end to office closures.’
Woah! Hang on a minute. PCS is not affiliated to any political party and yet its delegates to national conference, who are there to vote on behalf of members, say a Jeremy Corbyn government ‘would be in the interests of PCS members’ and ‘a Jeremy Corbyn led labour government can transform the economy’ etc at nauseam. Can you see what Mark Serwotka, the PCS comrade in chief, has done here? PCS is not affiliated in the sense that it doesn’t directly pay money to Corbyn and the comrades, but it does argue members should vote Labour. It’s called sleight of hand.
It is certainly arguable that PCS would be in the interests of all PCS members, given Corbyn’s lifelong pacifism and opposition to our nuclear deterrent. MOD members would be quaking in their boots if a Corbyn-led government came to power as indeed would be the entire armed services. I am sure you could come up with a long list of other government departments that might be adversely affected by a hard left Labour government.
I wouldn’t be in a hard left PCS anymore than I would be in a hard left Labour Party. I’d see my money being syphoned off to all manner of extreme causes, as well as encouraging me to vote for an elderly career backbencher with no leadership skills and someone who has never had an original idea in his life.
I am sure PCS does a very good job in other areas when it isn’t campaigning for a political party that’s swimming in the sewer of anti-Semitism whilst deselecting MPs who do not bow at the altar of St Jeremy.
Sod that. Like Labour, PCS is a hopeless case; a basket case. There are other trade unions out there that actually concentrate on the things that actually matter to members, like pay and conditions. The priorities of the comrades are, sadly, very different.