Sunday, 15 May 2011

In Solidarity with PCS

Colleagues, just about to head off to the PCS annual conference in Brighton. A chance to spend some quality time with reps from the trade union (in CPSA as it then was) in which I discovered my lifelong passion in, and commitment to, trade unionism. It was via CPSA activism that I won the TUC scholarship to Ruskin College in 1989 and it was in that same union that I experienced first hand Thatcher's hatred of all things collective. And through that union in the 1980's I learnt of how important solidarity was and is, particularly as I joined the yearly march in Cheltenham to demand that trade unions be returned to GCHQ and that the workers sacked for defending their union membership be returned to work. I have a lot to thank that union for and haven't forgotten that debt, not least since it was that that scholarship which set me on the path to working at Ruskin College.

Another reason I welcome the opportunity to work closely with this union is that, like others in the public sector, its members are at the coalface in delivering services desparately needed by those at the margins of British society. But now these workers are exposed to the brutal assault on public services, and of all of the attacks that I feel most personally it is that at the Equality and Humans Rights Commission (EHRC).

And why? It was whilst working at the predecessor Equal Opportunities Commission in Manchester in 1986 (which along with the CRE and DRC formed the EHRC in 2007) that I began my activism with CPSA. The EOC then, as the EHRC now, lived life under a Conservative government (we'll ignore the Lib Dems in this 'coalition' as the Tories are quite happy to also) destined to weaken the work of an organisation vested with a statutory duty to root-out and challenge discrimination - in the case of the EOC on the basis of gender.

What makes the current attack on the EHRC worse than those at the EOC is the connivance and contrivance of its leadership (Trevor Phillips being at the centre) whom, one would have assumed, would have been working hard to protect the vital services that the Conservatives are kicking into the long grass with the demand that the Commission reduces it operation budget by an unprecented 68% (from £70 million in 2007 to £22.5 by 2015).

The recent national action (pictured left) against the immediate impact of the cuts on invaluable public advice services is the first of a series of action that the union is organising. As with other action against public sector cuts your help and support is needed. Links to the national petition, details of the action at the EHRC and further details of the cuts - and of all current PCS campaigns can be seen at the union's national website:

Any comments/feedback welcome.

In Solidarity



John Clements said...

Better bring your umbrella Ian, as I'm not sure the weather in Brighton is set to be good this week - still I am sure you'll have a grand aold time with your PCS comrades!

Thnks for the news about the EHRC - what with the cloure of job centres this f*****g government wants to throw people onto the scrap heap and then deny them the opportunity to challenge unfairness in the way that they were sacked and in providing help in finding another job.

We need a modern version of Dickens to document the current dilemma- and in years to come they will not be able to believe that such things were done to the poorest in our society.

Hope to see/speak to you soon.


Ian Manborde said...

Many thanks John,

Weather has been fantastic so far (fingers crossed) and have been staying at a great venue close to the conference centre ( Conference feels quite subdued this year and feel it is down to the sheer volume of assasult on the civil service across the country - PCS is a resilient union though so I don't expect activists to let this lie without a fight - and that includes the disgraceful business at the EHRC.

As you say, bring on the modern Dickens to chronicle the descent into Victorian Britain!

Cheers John


John Clements said...

Thanks Ian!