Thursday 18 June saw the Annual General Meeting of the PCS North West Region. Delegates from 26 branches across the region, plus observers, attended the meeting.
In presenting the Annual Report, Regional Secretary Paula Wood made reference to the past twelve months being particularly difficult for PCS, with the revelation of a number of attacks from the government and employers as part of a union busting agenda. This included the cuts to facility time and the removal of check-off as the system for collecting union subscriptions in a number of departments.
However, despite this the union had remained as active and united as ever in campaigns. References were made to a number of high profile campaigns, including the Garston Contact Centre Dispute and the MOJ Shared Services Dispute where PCS members took strong, united action. This was of course on top of the day to day work of representing members in personal cases and negotiations.
Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh was one of two guest speakers, and again he made reference to the difficult year we have had, as well as the one we face ahead. However, he made a point that it was important to state what the union had won – the answer to the eternal question “what has the union done for us?”
Recent victories include stopping the privatisation of the Land Registry, securing significant concessions for members moved from Garston, preventing compulsory moves of DWP apprentices from Birchwood, preventing the closure of Jobcentres, and additional recruitment in departments such as HMRC even in the climate of austerity and job cuts. Although attacks are still ongoing, and it is important that we fight them, we must never forget that we can win concessions.
Steve Battlemuch, a PCS Industrial Officer, was the other guest speaker. He gave a presentation on organising. This emphasised PCS’s drive to improve membership involvement and build from the ground up, departing significantly from the ‘service provider’ model of unions that became the norm in the 1990’s and 2000’s.
Following this, National Executive Committee member Lawrence Dunne presented the region’s first annual Frank Doran Award.
Frank was known to members in Bootle Taxes as our long-standing Branch Chair and a committed fighter on behalf of all members. But his impact on the union stretched far beyond our own branch, and last year’s AGM voted to establish the award in order to honour the inspiration Frank provided to so many activists by honouring new activists who have made a significant mark in their first year as a rep.
We are proud to say that the first winner was from Frank’s own branch. Sarah Malone, Office Secretary for the Contact Centre in the Triad, was honoured with the award for all of the hard work she has put in since being thrown in at the deep end with the departure of most of the experienced reps in her office.
Sarah’s award was well deserved for all of the hard work she has done on behalf of members. It is also part of Frank’s legacy and testament to the inspiration he was to so many, as also evidenced by the Distinguished Life Membership he was posthumously awarded at this year’s Conference.
Sarah was also elected onto the North West Regional Committee for the coming year, along with our Branch Organiser Phil Dickens.
The first meeting of the new committee is in September.
Read the 2015 PCS North West Annual Report as a PDF here.