At its most recent meeting, the BEC agreed to support the statement produced by our sister branch at St John’s House and DWP North London Branch to campaign against the NEC decision. The campaign was launched with a meeting at the Manchester Mechanics Institute on Saturday 17 January.
The Branch Chair and Secretary have also written to the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, outlining the BEC position and asking for a response.
The NEC decision was taken on the basis of finances and full time officer resource. They claim that with the withdrawal of check-off, the method of paying union subscriptions through payroll, imminent, not suspending elections risked exacerbating serious financial problems. As the withdrawal of check-off is set to coincide with the election period this would draw PCS staff away from the work of signing members up to Direct Debit.
The branch believes that it is erroneous to present elections as a potential impediment to the survival of the union.
With Group elections, alternative methods of balloting such as workplace or online voting could offer a substantial saving while maintaining elections.
While the law requires NEC elections to be done via postal ballot, this election could have as easily supplemented the Direct Debit campaign – with forms included in ballot packs, and conversations with members emphasising both the need to sign up and the need to vote all at once.
Further, the branch believes that the decision by the NEC is a breach of the union’s rules.
Under the principle rules of the union, an election is required every year, and while the NEC have interpreted the wording of a supplementary rule as a get out clause for this, the rules clearly state that principle rules override supplementary rules if the two are in conflict.
A spokesperson for Bootle Taxes Branch said: “There are very clear concerns with both the decision and the way it was taken, which we believe members will share.
“The financial threat facing the union has been known for well over a year now, and yet this decision appears to have come out of nowhere as a possible short term remedy. Members of the NEC received the paper outlining the recommendation only an hour before their meeting, and members of the union were not consulted at all.
“Our branch continues to organise so that members are kept as informed and involved in union activity as possible. But this decision and the cynical way in which it was taken risks alienating members at a time when we need to stand together against attacks from both the government and the employer.”
The position taken by the BEC and a motion calling for the immediate reinstatement of elections will be debated in full by members at the branch AGM later in the month.
Read the letter sent to Mark Serwotka on behalf of the BEC here.
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