Defend victimised reps at PCS Conference 2015

pcs_adc_landingpagegraphic1The PCS Standing Orders Committee has released the agenda for the union’s Annual Delegate Conference (PDF download). There are two motions in the order which supporters of our campaign will want to ensure are passed.

Motion A37 focuses on John Pearson’s case and asks for retrospective support for his succesful Employment Tribunal campaign as well as, crucially, a written guarantee that the union will support victimised reps as a point of principle.

Motion A38 is all about putting control over which Employment Tribunals get union support in the hands of lay reps. Instead of rulings from the centre which often don’t tally up with the realistic prospects of success, it calls for committees in each region which can make the call – and are run by lay reps with experience of taking on Employment Tribunals. It also demands clear routes of appeal for those whose cases aren’t supported to ensure transparency.

Both motions are reproduced in full below for reference.

Motion A17 which urges support for victimised National Gallery rep Candy Udwin and Motion A64 calling for a wider fight against union rep victimisation and discrimination are both also worthy of strong support.

Branch mandate meetings are the opportunity for all members to mandate their delegates to vote in support of these motions so that we can rectify the disgraceful situation in our union where support for those who face employer victimisation is not a given.

Members attending Conference should also join the lobby on the Tuesday lunchtime in support of the fight to get PCS to support its members.

Lobby of PCS Annual Delegate Conference
The Brighton Centre, King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2GR
Tuesday 19 May, 12.30-14.00
All supporters welcome, bring flags and banners

Facebook event page here.

Add your name to the open letter here.

Motion A37

This Annual Delegate Conference applauds former HP North West Branch Secretary John Pearson for achieving a verdict of unfair dismissal for trade union activity at Employment Tribunal, despite the appalling lack of support from his trade union.

Conference notes that:

  • John was dismissed from Hewlett-Packard in late 2013 on a charge of breaching company confidentiality;
  • This was initially condemned as an attack on the union by the PCS HP Group Secretary;
  • A few months later, with a work to rule still ongoing and a consultative ballot taking place in John’s branch, the Group Secretary informed John that the union was no longer taking action to seek remedy for him;
  • This resulted in John no longer being able to hold his position as branch secretary or as a member under PCS rules;
  • At last year’s ADC, a motion instructing the NEC to retrospectively support John was defeated following highly personalised and slanderous opposition;
  • As a result, John was forced to pursue his Employment Tribunal independently and to fund it himself, supported by donations from the John Pearson Defence Campaign launched by rank-and-file activists.

Conference agrees that what happened to John is a damning indictment of PCS in how it supports its own trade union reps. Conference censures the National Executive Committee and insists that this situation should never be allowed to repeat itself in our union.

John’s case has also thrown into sharp focus what Conference feels is a distinct lack of support from the union more generally regarding Employment Tribunals. Many reps will know the frustration at the willingness of PCS Legal to write off cases as unwinnable and withhold support, particularly in those instances where the rep has then gone on to win those cases.

Conference therefore instructs the NEC to:

  • Offer full retrospective support to John, including a reimbursement of the legal costs he paid out of his own pocket;
  • Provide a written guarantee that reps and activists victimised by their employer will receive full and unwavering support when fighting that victimisation, by all available means including ET, as a point of principle;
  • Include in all future financial reports to Conference detail of the number of ETs pursued by the union, the percentage won, and the cost thereof.

Conference expects that support for John and written guarantee should be provided by August this year.

Motion A38

Conference resolves to put lay representatives in control of whether personal cases are taken forward to Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal by the union. To achieve this end, the National Executive Committee is instructed:

  • To establish authorised regional committees of experienced lay advocates to coordinate and evaluate cases and to sanction financial and other support from the union;
  • To ensure that the legal advice and representation at PCS’s disposal is available to these committees as and when required;
  • To provide clear, transparent and accountable routes of appeal for members who wish to challenge any decision not to support their case to ET or EAT.

This should be done before the end of 2015.