Around fifty people attended the meeting, which although a considerable drop on the year before was still a good turnout with facility time for the meeting having been removed.
Business progressed quickly. The minutes of the last AGM and the branch officers’ reports were adopted, Elayne Henderson was nominated for the Group LGBT Advisory Committee and the Branch Women’s Advisory Committee were elected unopposed, with the majority of the meeting left for debating motions.
The first motion passed called for the Group Executive Committee to campaign for equal pay and conditions for cleaning and support staff. A similar motion had been passed last year but not heard at Conference so it was moved once again.
Several other motions passed criticised the GEC’s handling of campaigns. One censured the GEC for not adhering to Conference policy over the suspension of action and called for the union to only suspend industrial action in the event of significant movement from the employer. Another condemned the lack of action on Performance Management and called for non-cooperation with the discriminatory system.
HMRC also came in for sharp criticism, and members supported a motion opposing a punitive approach to quality checks, resistance to work changes imposed by under-staffing and crisis management, and calling for Lin Homer and Jonathan Donovan to resign due to their role in setting union busting policy.
A motion was also passed calling for the GEC to give the PT Operations committee a more active role in negotiations with management.
Members supported a motion opposing the National Executive Committee’s decision to suspend elections, agreeing with the mover that with the attacks on PCS from the state the need for a fully transparent and democratic union that involves all members in decision making is more important than ever.
The NEC’s decision not to support John Pearson, a former rep at Hewlett-Packard who was victimised by his employer, also came in for sharp criticism. Members voted to support a motion seeking retrospective support for John and a written guarantee that no other activist will face a similar lack of support in the future.
They also supported a related motion asking that decisions on whether to support tribunals be put in the hands of lay reps instead of full time officials.
Motions to call off any merger with Unite and to reinvigorate the industrial and political aspects of the national campaign also received support.
An emergency motion on Tax Justice received support. Members voted to challenge HMRC’s lax treatment of tax avoiders, to campaign for an increase in tax allowances for pensioners and to expose companies which offer taxpayers refunds by claiming tax relief yet keep all or most of the money awarded for themselves.
Finally, the use of workfare in HMRC was highlighted, and members voted both to support a local campaign against the use of claimants to do tax work unpaid and to call upon the GEC to supplement this with a wider campaign across the department. The branch will issue more information on the shape of this campaign in the near future.
Bootle Taxes Branch would like to thank all members who spared the time to attend the meeting and vote on these vital issues. We also thank everyone for the strong support shown to the union through these difficult times. No matter what happens we intend to continue fighting and campaigning and keeping members as informed as possible.
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