28 August 2008
Experiencing Glastonbury for the first time, I was warmed by the sense of unity that pervades the entire festival.
Everyone I spoke to seemed more friendly and welcoming than the last. Inside the steel walls of Worthy Farm there seemed to be a real sense of togetherness.
It could only be hoped every festival goer would take this home with them to share with others in what is increasingly becoming a divided society.
Working on the PCS stall at the Leftfield stage was an uplifting experience. Many PCS members and festival goers expressed their heartfelt empathy with our cause and concern for the ‘quick-fix’ solutions being employed by the political stunt-men in power.
An opinion voiced by many people that I spoke with was that the downsizing and privatisation of public services was a short-term solution that would eventually result in massive problems for the British public.
Speaking to people it was apparent that concern for our public services is reaching fever pitch in some areas of Britain.
Many cited cases of government departments losing sensitive information - showing how corner cutting is becoming a dangerous gamble with missing data jeopardising the safety and wellbeing of the very people government departments are supposed to be protecting.
As a civil servant, it is always fun to challenge the public’s idea that we are all bowler-hatted, tea-drinking, over-paid Whitehall types.
This, fortunately, seems to be a fading perception as more and more human-interest pieces about low paid government workers are finding their way into the press alongside articles about our industrial action.
Challenging those that still have this perception, I reminded them that we now have a bigger problem than the ‘bowler hat’ stereotype: the aggressive corporate senior civil servants who seem to be on a mission to privatise and tear apart the civil service.
I was on the PCS stall every day encouraging people to register their support for our campaign by signing our petition.
By Sunday night many festival goers were sporting a PCS at Glastonbury T-shirt and we raised over £400 for the PCS hardship fund.
*Alongside Chris, PCS activists Heather Hampson, Foreign Office and Steve Ryan, HMRC joined young members organiser Tracy Edwards and campaigns officer James Davies to staff our stall at Leftfield this year*
PCS had a prominent presence at this years Leftfield at Glastonbury. The Leftfield, which is organised and run with Battersea and Wandsworth TUC is a hub for the political and socialist side of Glastonbury and took place on 25-29 June 2008.
The majority of acts, performers and bands on the line up fight for the same principles as we do in PCS - anti slavery, anti racism and miscarriages of justice.
All of these issues featuring high on the agenda during the whole of the festival.
The Leftfield holds 5,000 people and is situated yards away from the Pyramid stage.
Highlights from this years’ Leftfield:
• During the Latin America session, deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning introduced Venezuelan ska band Palmeras Kanibales. Hugh mentioned he was pleased to be representing PCS because of the commitment we have in offering solidarity to our brothers and sisters internationally.
• Mark Barker from HMRC filled in as DJ in between acts and introduced the Rascals, a local Liverpool band, during the ‘capital of culture’ evening.
• Young members’ organiser Tracy Edwards introduced the Holloways during the miscarriages of justice session and highlighted our involvement in the ‘Justice for Jay Campaign’ – Jay Abatan, a PCS member, was murdered nearly 10 years ago in a racist attack. PCS continues to campaign for his killers to be brought to justice.
• General secretary Mark Serwotka introduced fellow Cardiff City fans The Automatic on Saturday night.
The annual Tony Benn rally took place on Sunday afternoon – around 5,000 festival goers were in attendance. Joining Tony were Mark Serwotka, Julia Brandrif Battersea & Wandsworth TUC, Anna Cooper Nicaragua solidarity campaign, Billy Bragg and Jeremy Dear general secretary National union of journalists chairing the discussion.
For full details of this years’ Leftfield event, visit www.leftfield.coop for their daily blog.
A movie made to promote the Leftifled has just been finished and will be premiered at this years TUC congress in Brighton.
The movie includes footage of PCS' intervention this year alongside other trade unions GMB, RMT, UNISON and the FBU.