PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka to retire after 23 years

How the Left have reacted

Popular trade union leader Mark Serwotka has announced his retirement as general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union after 23 years in the job.

Taking up the role in 2000, he was re-elected a further four times and commented today that it was “an honour and a privilege” to serve in the role for that long.

He said that the PCS union, which represents UK government workers, was currently in the “best place it has been for many years” in the face of Conservative government “attacks”.

During his time in the position, Serwotka said he had endeavoured to represent PCS members to the best of his ability and to challenge the cuts to workers jobs, pay and public services.

Serwotka, 60, had a heart transplant in 2016, having suffering heart and kidney failure after catching a virus from his dog.

Taking into account his serious health issues, he said he had to do what was right for himself, his family and the union and believed that now was the time to announce his retirement.  

Boasting an impressive trade union resume, Serwotka was president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in 2019, a member of the TUC General Council since 2022 and its Executive Committee since 2003.

In his retirement statement Serwotka championed the successes achieved by his union in recent years.

“We have led the way within the trade union movement on challenging the political consensus that working people must accept cuts in their jobs, pay and public services,” said Serwotka.

“Today PCS is in the best place it has been for many years.

“We have withstood attacks on our union from Conservative governments and we are now growing.

“We are winning historically high votes in industrial action ballots which beat the Tory ballot threshold and we have developed an effective industrial action strategy for the future.

“We have young members coming forward to become a new layer of activists. Our financial position is the best it has been in years.”

Serwotka will retire at the end of the year with the union to announce a timetable for the election of a new general secretary in due course.

Reactions from the Left

Campaigners have heralded Serwotka’s role in challenging the government’s Rwanda policy, which he has firmly criticised as “cruel” and a “despicable assault” on asylum seekers and refugees.

Unite Against Fascism campaign group said Serwotka had been “crucial” in leading the way in the union movement against fascism, whilst the group Stand Up To Racism praised his role in opposing the government’s anti-refugee policies.

Unions have come out to praise the general secretary for his service to the movement.

The regional secretary of the National Education Union said Mark had changed the trade union movement for the better over the last two decades, writing “he was both a good comrade and boss”, whilst the Scottish TUC said he had been an “amazing servant” to his union and great friend to Scotland.  

Whilst politicians and members of PCS have praised his work, with Labour MP for Luton South, Rachel Hopkins, commenting that Serwotka had led the union “diligently” over the past 23 years and wished him all the best for the future.

Scottish Labour MP Richard Leonard called him “one of the outstanding trade unionists of our generation”, being “principled, courageous and a true socialist”.

While political advisor and columnist Andrew Fisher said he had the privilege to work alongside Serwotka for many years and that he’d been a “massive transformative figure” in PCS history.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Photo credit: PCS / Andy Aitchison)

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust logo
Comments are closed.