Get Organised for the National Campaign Consultative Ballot – 14th February to 21st March

Pay, pensions and the cost of living crisis are the main issues for the PCS National Campaign. In December our Left Unity led NEC agreed to move to a consultative ballot and activists are now full steam ahead with making plans for its success.

Out of necessity, PCS rightly prioritised safety over the last two years, and the results of this are clear, from the concessions gained in DVLA where the branch has been transformed, following the dispute and campaign activity over the last 18 months, with the branch leadership continuing to take the fight to the employer on behalf of its members, to departments where PCS has successfully negotiated safe homeworking and the world of work has changed forever.

In DWP, the issues have taken a much sharper focus, with the employer rushing to try to get every member of staff back into the workplace before PCS considers it safe to do so. Our digital technology has been transformed, and transformed the way that we do things, and our ability to reach out and engage members has been greatly enhanced.

Safety will always be a primary focus for any trade union, and PCS reps should feel proud of the way we have all responded, and will continue to respond in the weeks ahead, as the government seeks to force everyone back into workplaces, without any consideration for staff safety. Members need to know that their union will fight for them, and our reps will not be found lacking.

But members tell us that pay, pensions and the rise in the cost of living are also at the forefront of their minds right now. A PCS all-members survey run over the festive break, when many minds are on other matters, still generated over 10,000 responses, of whom 96% supported our pay claim of 10%. 97% supported the demand to stop the pensions robbery and over 80% placed low pay at the top of their list of concerns (followed by the pensions robbery). 85% of MPs have been contacted by a PCS member about the pensions robbery.


Members are telling us loud and clear their concerns about the cost of living crisis. Pay freeze, pensions robbery, fuel bills, heating, the hike in NI contributions, the slashing of Universal Credit, the list goes on and on. 


With a government in disarray, this is exactly the time to be gauging our strength at branch, group, region and nation level, to determine where we go next in terms of a potential statutory ballot. Work to engage members, reps and activists in every group in preparation for the ballot ahead is vital. We need to ensure that members understand the importance of the issues and feel confident that the only way to change these conditions is by using our collective strength and standing together, and whilst the messaging and the nuance will vary in every group, members are expressing a growing sense of injustice about what is happening to them, and as activists, our role is to put aside any differences, to respond by building the biggest coalition of members prepared to defend themselves and fight back.The mood for action is changing fast, and trade union leaders from across the movement have agreed to speak at PCS regional committees in the coming weeks, demonstrating the potential for joining up our campaigns in order to strengthen them.   

Left Unity members must be at the forefront of building support for this campaign, and must strain every sinew to deliver a successful result. Now isn’t the time for political posturing, it’s for rolling our sleeves up and doing everything possible to win this ballot.The practical work starts now. Ensuring that we have as many personal email addresses and mobile numbers recorded, that our reps know how to access and use PCS digital to contact members, and that we are planning how we can build support and engage members in each branch, are all really important practical steps to getting organised in advance of the ballot.


Left Unity members aren’t just around at election time. Activists understand the importance of the National Campaign, and that delivering a strong result in this consultative ballot puts us in the strongest position to be able to win a statutory ballot, to take the action we need to defeat this rotten government on the issues that matter to members.   If you want help with any aspect of preparing for the National Campaign, please contact any member of the PCS Left Unity National Committee.

Fran Heathcote – Left Unity Organiser   

Political posturing and unfounded criticism no substitute for action and results

On the 5th of January reps in DWP branches may have received a message sent from Craig Worswick, as the Secretary of Greater Manchester branch, calling a reps meeting on 19th January via Zoom. Whilst branches have no mandate to call meetings of other branches, which was pointed out to him by PCS officers, a decision has been made to proceed with the meeting.

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PCS Left Unity Conference report

Left Unity Chair, Lorna Merry, welcomed delegates to the second online Conference, with many important issues of policy to address, under the broad headings of Coronavirus, National Campaign, Equality and Other motions. The conference was well-attended, with lots of contributions and interventions, and the mood was positive and determined.

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Fighting for Covid safety in the DWP

Since the arrival of the Omicron Covid variant we have experience the horrific deja vu of the DWP response to the crisis. At every turn in the last two years the department has been behind the curve, only responding to the danger after the event. We have been witnessing the same with Omicron. This is no surprise of course when their masters in Parliament treat the safety of the public with disdain.

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Solidarity with UCU strikes

PCS offer you solidarity and support for this important action.

We wholeheartedly back your action and your campaign. It is clear that UCU members rights to fair working terms and conditions are being treated with disdain – scapegoated in the rabid push for marketisation of education. Casual contracts, insecure work, have been used for too long in education and are not compatible with the security and dignity in work that is deserved. Pay cuts, pensions, inequality and increased work pressure – doesn’t create an arena where ideas can flourish.

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PCS Joins Legal Challenge of Government Asylum Pushback Policy

We are proud to publish the following article by James Cox, President Home Office group (personal capacity) and Left Unity member.

The continued refugee crisis involving small boats crossing the channel has been ongoing for several years now but has recently received much more scrutiny. PCS members working in the Home Office have been at the front line of this. Members have been deeply affected by the amount and intensity of the work and traumatised by the things they have seen.

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Massive marches demand real action to stop climate change

Hundreds of thousands of people joined marches on November 6th called in response to the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

Bristol

Reports include 100,000 in Glasgow, 20,000 in London and several thousand in all the major cities.

Birmingham
Cardiff

This is a massive step forward in the movement to force our government to take real action to halt climate change. Across the demonstrations there was a recognition that Boris Johnson’s government is more interested in Greenwashing the market and profits than they are in saving the planet.

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COP26 – Join the protests and demonstrations

The COP 26 UN global climate summit, begins in Glasgow this weekend.

In recent weeks there has been a deluge of news coverage of climate issues and grand statements and promises from world leaders, alongside adverts from companies claiming to be green and articles telling us the best things to buy to ‘save the planet’, timed to coincide with the flurry of aircraft full of suited dignitaries landing in Scotland.

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STUC Women’s conference report

On 25th and 26th October I attended the 94th STUC Women’s Conference as a delegate for PCS. Having attended the conference many times before, this was my first as an NEC delegate, and the first (and hopefully last) one held online.

We had a full complement of LU delegates for our union and each of us took part in the debates on covid, COP26, women’s rights, disabled women, pay and women’s safety.

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