The NEC met on 26 March and considered the question of holding national and group elections during the current coronavirus crisis. The NEC had already agreed at a meeting on 19 March that it would not be possible to go ahead with our Conferences in May, the expected time of peak infection rates.
The NEC considered the fact that members’ workplaces and normal working practices are in a state of extreme disruption. The coronavirus situation dominates our work and our members’ lives. For some members and their families this is a time of tragic loss.
Our staff and our activists are focused primarily on our response to the coronavirus crisis and are unlikely to be in a position to progress business as usual. The union is in the process of adapting to the situation with new methods of communication and organising which are not yet fully tested.
In terms of the practicalities of holding elections, the independent scrutineers have informed us that, while at this moment in time it would be possible to despatch and count returned ballot papers, uncertainty over the coming period (including the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their own staff and on the postal system in terms of receiving and returning ballot papers) means that delays and lowered turnout would at least be likely.
Having carefully considered the position, the NEC decided that it would not be appropriate for the NEC and Group elections to go ahead as planned. The NEC decision means that existing post holders will remain in place until elections can be held.
The NEC has taken this decision with the utmost consideration of all the factors. It has been an extremely difficult, yet an absolutely necessary, decision.
PCS has enshrined democracy at the heart of everything we do. We are proud of our record and we are widely admired across the movement. In the circumstances of this huge crisis in our workplaces and communities, however, it would be wrong to carry on with the union’s formal elections.
The NEC agreed that the situation would be kept under review. Branches will be kept fully informed.