Shift to left in NIPSA elections
THE GENERAL Council results in NIPSA represent a considerable step forward for the left in the union. The activist based Time for Change coalition has had nine candidates elected including four Socialist Party members.
Socialist Party member Carmel Gates topped the poll with a tremendous 3,000 plus votes. In a ballot which was undoubtedly dominated by the Civil Service pay dispute seven of the Time for change candidates elected were activists playing leading roles in that dispute.
While the Time for Change coalition increased its vote the results could have been even better. Activists from one large civil service branch - the Child Support Agency, including a SWP member, left Time for Change just before the election and ran four candidates in a rival campaign.
None of these were elected yet the effect was to split the left vote. There is no doubt that, had they stayed within Time for Change, NIPSA would now have a left majority leadership. Then issues like union democracy and effective campaigns against privatisation could have been progressed. The right wing leadership, although undoubtedly weakened, remains in control.
The lesson of the election is clear - members will vote for a left leadership where that alternative is clearly fighting on the key issues. Time for Change should build on these results, flesh out its programme and make it easier for members and activists to join it.