Last week the National Gallery sacked a PCS activist during their long dispute over outsourcing gallery staff to a security firm. Candy is an outstanding trade unionist who is now being made to pay for having the guts to stand up to the bosses. PCS is rightfully demanding her reinstatement and it’s great to see the union leadership vocal in their support for that reinstatement.
Tomorrow at PCS conference there is a fringe meeting highlighting the issue of victimised activists. Unfortunately the leadership of PCS seems to have a bizarre approach to whether it supports activists sacked by the bosses in the line of duty. Sofia Azam and John Pearson are two activists that have lost their jobs whilst acting on behalf of their members and yet have not recieved the help they deserve. In the case of John he won his tribunal with private legal help after the union effectively threw him out of the organisation.
I’ve met John a few times and it was a pleasure to interview him for some research into PCS activism. His experience over the years is the sort of which a union should be trying to cling desperately to. He’s been there and done it, at the coalface rather than in a union office. Sharing a chat over lunch and discussing what it means to be a rank and file activist and the loyalty such an individual has to the workers they represent will always stay with me.
An injury to one is an injury to all. Maybe that’s an outdated principle. Well, there are motions up for debate and hopefully they will put the leadership under some pressure. There will also be a chance to lobby the conference tomorrow at 12:30.
I hope trade unionists everywhere will simply say that it is a principle to support activists when they are attacked by the bosses.