On the morning of Wednesday 20 May, motion A37 concerning support for John Pearson and all victimised reps as a point of principle was debated at PCS Conference. Unfortunately, although all of the arguments of opposition have been refuted many times over, the motion fell by a margin of 100 votes.
In response to the result, John has commented:
So, the senior officers and the NEC leadership scored a victory but they have lost the moral battle. They have sacrificed fundamental principles of trade union solidarity. I am pleased that, on my walk away from the Conference Centre I met John McDonnell MP on his way to address the Conference. I used the opportunity to appraise him of the outcome and of the bankruptcy of the bureaucrats he deals with.
My fight is now over. I wish to express my fulsome thanks to the branches which supported the campaign, to the superb comrades of the John Pearson Defence Campaign, of the PCS Support Your Members blog, of PCS Independent Left and of the Civil Service Rank and File Network, who do understand the fundamental principles of trade unionism and who worked so hard to challenge a rotten bankrupt bureaucracy. Their days are numbered – make sure that they don’t take the union down with them. Solidarity and best wishes in all your future endeavours comrades.
This is a disappointing and disheartening result, as a number of delegates to Conference as well as outside observers have noted. It is also a sharp, and saddening, contrast to the rightful and excellent support afforded sacked National Gallery rep Candy Udwin.
The campaign for Candy is inspirational. But the contrast only highlights that solidarity from the PCS leadership is selective, and that in facing future victimisation PCS members cannot necessarily rely on them for support.
The question thus now becomes one of how PCS activists can support and defend themselves and each other independent of the union’s executive. Organisation and collective action remains the best response, as it always has been in the workers’ movement. But where it is necessary there is a need to ensure employment tribunals can be pursued despite the reticence of paid bureaucrats.
This campaign now moves in a new direction. It is starkly clear that the top of our union will not necessarily support us when we need it to – so we will have to stand together and support each other. Get in touch if you are interested in discussing how we go about doing that.
In the meantime, we wish John all the best for the future and offer the promise that we will keep fighting in the hope that no other rep has to face the abandonment and slander he did from those who claim to believe in solidarity.
An injury to one is an injury to all.