Wednesday 26 February saw the 2014 Annual General Meeting of PCS Bootle Taxes Branch. It was a packed out and lively affair, with discussions on everything from the conduct of elected officials and performance management to badgers.
Because of the size of the venue and the number of expected attendees, the meeting was held twice with votes from both meetings tallied to produce overall results. In all, around 5-600 members attended, and both meetings were standing room only.
The meeting began with a tribute to Frank Doran, the long standing chair of the branch who sadly passed away in January after losing his battle with cancer. Brian Allen delivered the tribute, drawing laughter as well as tears from the meeting as he went through memories of Frank’s life. The tribute ended with a minute of applause instead of the traditional minute of silence.
The next major items on the agenda were elections. The candidates for the Branch Women’s Advisory Committee were elected unopposed. No nominations were received for auditors in the coming year and so the call for nominations will go out once more via email.
It was in the question of branch nominations for national committees that the meeting saw its first heated debate. The recommendations put forward by the Branch Executive Committee formed part of the slate for the Left Unity faction, with the rest of that slate moved by Vicki Searle. An alternative slate of candidates was put forward by Charlie Wilson.
Ultimately, members voted to nominate a mix of the two slates. The full list of branch recommendations is at the end of this article.
After discussing nominations, the branch debated motions that would go to conference.
Cleaning staff were the subject of three motions. The first was a simple one recognising the new recruits to the union in the branch’s constitution. The other two concerned the conditions that contractors worked under, with Phil Dickens moving a motion to build a campaign based on positive demands around pay, sick pay, pension rights and union rights and Debi Clisham speaking to a motion to resist outsourcing and pressure HMRC so that any tendering contract included the Living Wage and other rights.
Other group motions covered opposition to the imposition of increased Saturday working and the training needs of staff being flipped between various types of work. Members also supported a motion to censure the GEC for failing to adhere to conference policy on a number of issues, and setting out the need for democratic accountability.
National motions called for a strengthening of national campaign demands, a tightened up national campaign strategy, support for reps with mental health conditions and raising awareness around fuel poverty.
Sarah Broad ignited controversy by moving a motion to oppose the badger cull. This motion received support from members, but not without opposition. In the first meeting, rival views on the cull itself quickly became very heated, while in the second one member argued that this issue should not be discussed at all as it didn’t directly relate to working conditions. The money spent on the badger cull, compared to the much lower cost of effective vaccination, was raised as a counter to this – with the point made that the money wasted could be better spent elsewhere in the public sector on wages, services and benefits.
The last motion to be heard covered Performance Management. John Virtue moved a censure of the GEC for failing to effectively resist the imposition of the new system and engaging with it when members had demanded non-cooperation. Vicki Searle argued that although there were failings to be addressed on the GEC’s part over this issue, the renewed call for non-cooperation was dangerous. However, from the floor members echoed the call to not cooperate and reaffirmed their opposition to and hatred of the new system. The motion was overwhelmingly supported.
The meeting ended with GEC member Marianne Owens as guest speaker. She discussed the myriad attacks currently facing members and how these would all be resisted through the new Jobs & Staffing Campaign.
Whilst controversy was limited to badgers, the subjects of the motions taken forward showed as ever the resolve of Bootle Taxes members to lead the way in the union. They set out an agenda for Conference which, complimented of course by motions from other branches, is likely to be angry and defiant in the face of attempts by both the government and the employer to wear us down.
Instead, as is fitting for Frank Doran’s branch, we’re ready to take on all comers.
Bootle Taxes Branch nominations for R&C Group committees
President: Lorna Merry
Deputy President: Hector Wesley
Deputy Group Secretary: Gerry Noble
Treasurer: Frankie Tervit
Assistant Group Secretary: John Davidson, Hamish Drummond, Mark Leopard, Gordon Rowntree, Barney Lawn, Lorna Merry, Gerry Noble, Gary Stein
GEC: Mark Benjamin, Mal Blinston, Colette Brough, Carol Gerrard, Rebecca Girven, Clara Harmer, Paul Harrington, Lyn Ion, Amjad Ismail, Lorna Kennedy, Andy Lord, Kevin Mchugh, Helen Meldrum, Jim Molloy, Gerry Noble, Steve Ryan, John Smith, Patrick Smyth, Gary Stein
Standing Orders Committee: Ian Hough
Group auditor: Ian Colledge
Editorial Board: Peter Goddard, Debbie Mallet, Fay Westbrook
Black Members advisory Committee: Mark Benjamin, Amjad Ismail
Disabled Members Advisory Committee: Mark Benjamin, Mary Carr, Barbara Farmer, Andrew Forster, Graham Forster, Jean Manuel, Martyn Mellis, Patrick Smyth
Group Women’s Advisory Committee: Sarah Broad, Clara Harmer, Lynn Ion, Lorna Kennedy, Debbie Mallet, Dee Leary
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee: Stephen Darbyshire, Richard Jones, Sandra Quayle
Young Members Advisory Committee: Graham Forster
Environmental Advisory Committee: Simon Brett, Sarah Broad, Richard Leitch