Click on the image to download as a leaflet
Wednesday. What a day! What a fantastic show of strength we saw on 1st February as 100,000 PCS members took strike action against hundreds of thousands of workers from other unions.
We are in the strongest position we have been in for over a decade and the Government knows it, so let’s start with a massive Thank You.
Thanks to every member, rep and activist that made Wednesday the success it was. Picket lines were vibrant, rallies and demos were huge, the whole day had a buzz about it and the Left Unity led NEC will meet on Tuesday to take feedback and agree next steps.
The mood across the movement right now is palpable, and although we are painfully aware of the cost of living crisis, members understand the need now to stand up and fight back against a government intent on decimating public services.
A Strategy to Win
The strategy developed by the NEC, is a strategy to win. To maximise the amount of action taken throughout the life of the mandate, but to minimise the financial cost to our members.
The targeted action so far has been a huge success, receiving unprecedented media coverage, whilst also seeing a massive spike in new joiners. Our membership is now at the highest level since before check-off was ended in the biggest departments.
With the strongest mandate from members we’ve had in years, the all-member action taken this week was, by any measure, a massive success.
We have every confidence that the strategy is proving popular. More targeted action now endorsed by the NEC, the reballot of HMRC well-underway, with positive reports coming from the group, and the decision about the next all-member action due to be taken on Tuesday, we are in the strongest position that we have been in for years, to send a clear message to our employers, and the government, that enough is enough and that they now need to find the resources to meet our demands.
This strategy has been developed in careful consultation with reps and members, and following faithfully the policy overwhelmingly carried and agreed at ADC 2022.
Re-elect a Campaigning Leadership
To continue the success of this campaign, we need to reelect a campaigning, fighting leadership capable of leading and winning for members, PCS Left Unity stand under the banner of the Democracy Alliance – a democratically agreed, diverse group of candidates representing our whole union and working together for the benefit of PCS members.
Click here to download this article as a flyer https://pcsleftunity2020.files.wordpress.com/2023/02/wp-1675425544037.pdf
Click here to download the Democracy Alliance slate https://pcsleftunity2020.files.wordpress.com/2023/02/wp-1675425389222.pdf
With just a few days to go until our strike on 1st February, PCS branches up and down the country are working flat-out to make the action a big success.
New members are joining in droves, with membership going over 194,000 this week, the highest yet since before the withdrawal of checkoff, and our media profile and coverage are at an all-time high. Combining targeted action with all-member action has certainly given the media plenty to talk about, and all areas involved in targeted action so far have reported significant membership growth.
When the NEC met on 18th & 19th January, we agreed plans for further areas to target and this twin-track strategy, alongside national action when it will have the most impact, is not just the same old tired method which, although popular in terms of protest, had little impact on shifting the employer or the government. The NEC will be meeting again on 7th February to review the day, take stock and decide next steps. Groups that narrowly missed beating the threshold (like HMRC), are currently reballoting and should be in a position to join in soon, meaning an escalation of approximately 30,000 members joining the campaign. The government is in chaos now.
Our strategy has proved popular with reps and members, when explained properly, and has certainly put PCS in the spotlight. Although understandably, the levy idea needed some explaining, and there were some attempts made to portray it as something it wasn’t, membership has not fallen in any significant way, in fact, overall, it is climbing fast.
Reps are reporting members feeling enthused by the idea of coming out on strike alongside other unions taking action, and whilst there is bound to be lots of attention on the teachers striking, and schools being closed, we are working hard to get PCS the attention we deserve on the day too. With so many workers striking together on the 1st, we need to make sure that we’ll be impossible to ignore.
The Left Unity leadership of PCS has been driving this campaign and we owe it to our members to make it the biggest success possible. With rallies planned in many towns and cities around the UK, many with PCS speakers, let’s make sure we have a vibrant presence at all of them.
PCS hasn’t taken national strike action since 2014. If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, and it all seems daunting, there is a lot of advice and guidance out there. Check the PCS website, or get in touch with more experienced reps and members about how to make the day a success. Don’t be intimidated by any manager telling you you have to notify your intentions, you don’t, and if you feel under pressure, just say you haven’t decided what you’re doing yet.
– Support your picket line, and if you can’t get to the one at your place of work, support another picket line, whether it’s a PCS one or organised by another union. Bring your kids, bring your pets, make some noise!
– Send a solidarity message. When workers are on strike, it really helps and boosts confidence to know that others support you, and you are not alone.
– Attend a rally or demo if there is one near to where you live – that will give you a real sense of the sheer size of the campaign against what this government is doing, and they can be great fun too.
-Send us your pictures and reports. Left Unity will be providing coverage of the day from as many areas as possible, whatever you’re doing, let us know about it! Email reports and pictures to email@example.com.
We really need to hear from you. Let’s work together to make February 1st a success and ensure that whatever is agreed next, it has your input and ideas, and that we have the maximum impact on this rotten government.
If you’re not yet a member of Left Unity, the socialist grouping within PCS, join us. We are working positively to build the biggest campaign and fightback in defence of PCS members, and in support of a strong, well-organised PCS.
We want to work with like-minded PCS activists to make sure that PCS remains a fighting, campaigning union, and that we build on everyone’s ideas to make the national campaign a success,
Beating the ballot threshold in so many areas was historic. It has put us in a great position. Let’s not squander that opportunity. Let’s build together for the 1st and beyond.
Please get in touch if you want to find out more about the work of Left Unity.
The Left Unity National Executive have declared an all member strike on Wednesday 1st February for all members with a live mandate following November’s ballot result.
The decision was taken following detailed discussion with other unions about the prospect of significant co-ordinated action in that date. While mass co-ordination isn’t possible at this stage, the TUC have called a day of protest against the Government’s latest attacks on workers rights to strike on the 1st, and there is an expectation that other unions will be taking action alongside PCS with possibly over half a million public sector workers on strike on that day.
Strategy can win
The call for national action follows the hugely successful targeted action that has already taken place across a number or areas of DfT, Home Office, DWP and EFRA in recent weeks.
The strategy pushed by Left Unity, and overwhelmingly supported at our conference in December, is to maximise the amount of action members take for the duration of our mandate, while minimising the financial sacrifice of members.
The current mandate is the strongest we have had in years, and we have every reason to be confident we can win our demands on pay, pensions, job security and attacks to our redundancy terms, with the right industrial strategy. It is crucial that we use that mandate to maximum effect, and our ability to take thousands of members out continually between now and May, while supplementing that action with all member national action when it is right to do so, can deliver that effective strategy.
Crucial we build
The 1st February action involving all members, will see the first step in escalation beyond the targeted areas that have already taken action, and will be kept under review in the weeks ahead. The action is in line with the commitment we gave to members that we would prioritise targeted, paid strike action, while building national action in co-ordination with other unions. The aim is to deliver the hardest hitting action we can to bring the government back round the negotiating table, and it will need to be escalated over a period of time, in the absence any signs of an early settlement to the dispute.
Vital we build the fighting fund
A key element of our action, in the midst of the greatest cost of living crisis workers have faced in decades, is the union’s ability to offer strike pay to members taking targeted action. It should be remembered that when the union asks members to take such action, they are striking, not only for themselves, but for all of us. It is vital, therefore, for that action to be sustainable over the lifetime of the mandate, and so must be paid. We obviously cannot expect members to have a disproportionate loss of pay, and so the levy that will kick in from 1st February is critical.
It is disappointing that some activists have publicly opposed the levy and actively agitated with members against it, some calling for it to be voluntary. Left Unity are clear that the guarantee of sufficient funds to continue paying members who strike for all of us, is integral to the success of our strategy, and cannot be delivered through voluntary donations. At the same time the ask for members to pay either £3 or £5 a month aims to minimise the cost to all members, while delivering sufficient funds to sustain our targeted action. The total cost for members between February and May will be either £12 or £20, depending whether you earn £24,000 or less.
When explained to members, our experience is that they understand the importance of the levy and why the amounts have been set as they are.
A dispute we can win – a dispute we must win
The current cost of living and threat to thousands of our members jobs, were key in delivering the most successful ballot result PCS have had in decades.
The impact of systemic low pay across the Civil Service and related areas, is having a devastating impact on our members and their families, and is driving their determination to win this dispute.
The Left Unity led strategy of paid targeted action, funded from the strike fund and topped up by the levy, supplemented by national all member action, possibly in co-ordination with other unions, gives us the best chance of winning.
Let’s all work together to make the 1st February a huge success and, with the ongoing targeted action, make this action something the Tories can simply not ignore.
In Nottingham we now have a new Building for the Government Hub known as Unity Square. This building has HMRC, VOA, DVSA, DFE, Legal Aid, and CPS members now attending.
From the outset Left Unity members who have members in the building promised we would make sure that Unity Square lives up to its name, for all our PCS members.
Before the ballot opened leading reps met and decided to call an all reps meeting for all of our reps in our Branches. We agreed from that reps meeting to ensure we had leafleting on a regular basis and further that we had to involve reps and activists in that. So, before the current national ballot we started that process. We also ensured that we had a recruitment stall inside the building before our ballot started which was really successful.
We also formed a WhatsApp group for all Unity Square reps and activists so that we could keep in touch with each other. However, the WhatsApp has also proved to be a great organising tool. Leafleting rotas are being set up on this, and ideas on how we can engage members are being exchanged.
We have acted as one PCS in this Building irrespective of which Branch or Department we are in. That means encouraging people to vote but also recruiting non-members. As a result, the HMRC Branch have recruited near to 100 members, rep’s confidence has increased as they see other reps and activists involved, and it has created a real PCS presence and profile in the Government Hub.
Organising in all Government Hubs must be our goal, it’s easy to do it and not only PCS, but Left Unity in PCS, can and will grow in the climate we are creating.
When the ballot is finished, we have all said that we want to keep up the PCS profile. Fund raising and other events will be organised, my message is simple, don’t forget the Government Hubs, our members in them are the future of our Union.
PCS DfT East Midlands Branch Secretary
The economy is going to hell in a handbasket, this is nothing new for low paid Civil Servants, however with threats of job cuts, government theft of our pensions over-contributions and slashing our recourse to compensation if our jobs are cut – we are now in a place where the political scum who badly run this country have left us with no alternative than to push back.
This isn’t a phrase that is bandied about a lot these days, but this is class war. Lockdown presented a massive acceleration of the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, to such an extent that now the coverage of people economically pressured by rising energy costs affects middle income wage earners, which means the vast majority of PCS members are feeling the cost-of living crisis bearing down in a crucible formed from the failure and broken promises of politicians to all the workers in the UK.
Against this background there are meetings going on, up and down the length of the UK, not only in PCS but nurses, teachers and many other public sector workers. Civil Servants in PCS are being consulted in a statutory postal ballot on taking action to defend our livelihoods over Pay, Jobs, Pensions and the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.
Registers of Scotland Branch had a meeting last week (12 October 2022)
We’ve done a power of work in the run up to this ballot. In the indicative ballot the Branch achieved a 67% vote. Prior to the ballot we spoke directly with 98% of our members about their balloting address, contact details and the cost-of-living crisis.
The Branch wanted to tie the Ballot meeting into this years’ imminent pay offer from Management (Scottish Sector still dealing with 2021 – 2022 pay bargaining), however this was delayed so with less than 24 hrs notice we called a meeting to give a brief update on pay talks for 2022 (in general because specific talks were still in confidence) and the National Ballot.
Over 50% of our members turned out to the Microsoft Teams meeting!
The Branch do not mince our words in terms of our anger at the attacks on our members and political misery brought down on them by an economically inept Westminster Government:-
“The richest hundred people in the UK used to be millionaires, then multi-millionaires, now Billionaires. They are accumulating wealth they don’t generally spend in the economy from the poorest who spend everything they have, many on essentials, in the economy. So when a large part of the population have no money to spend in the economy, the economy does not recover and the financial model breaks. Thereafter anyone working to that model like the Bank of England putting up interest rates to cut borrowing when people are using credit cards to pay for energy or food – is making the crisis worse.
The best thing that can be done for the economy is to start redistributing the wealth towards the many who spend money in the economy. One of the ways to do this is pay rises in line with inflation and PCS is far from alone in campaigning for this…”
“Lately, every-time the Prime Minister is on the ropes, she indicates that she has saved everyone from Energy rises. This is a lie.
The Westminster Government resolution includes placing £120 Billion in debt, on UK domestic power users to be paid back over the next 20 years, leaving us paying overpriced energy bills for that time. The best metaphor I can find is that they haven’t exactly let most of us drown – but they are waterboarding us for the next 20 years. That does not fit my definition of “saving” us. Despite this intervention, people are in fear of switching on their heating, people will freeze to death this Winter and people will be queuing up at food banks who do not have enough food to meet demand.”
Members had questions, members had concerns about industrial action, but members did not flinch from the Branch recommendation to Vote YES in the ballot and pushing back. Members are not welcoming what lies before us – but with grim determination they are preparing themselves for a fight!
During the meeting, the Branch pointed out the importance informing PCS when you have cast your ballot. Immediately after the meeting our PCS hub stats rose from 5% to 30% of Branch members having voted and it has been rising steadily since.
I have been a union representative in the civil service for 39 years. This is the biggest test as a union and as the working peoples of the UK we have faced in that time. Now is the time to push back – VOTE YES IN THE PCS STATUTORY STRIKE BALLOT!
The “mini-budget” announced on Friday 23rd September showed this Tory Government for what they are: a government for the rich and wealthy. One that will prioritise big-business and their profits, at the expense of the working class. They have openly declared class war!
While removing caps for the rich and lowering tax burdens on the wealthiest, the budget will do nothing to help those already struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills, rather it will drive millions deeper into poverty.
Our members, like other workers, are facing the steepest drop in living standards in generations. While our pay is ideologically suppressed, the general cost of everyday living soars. This latest budget from the new Chancellor will do nothing to help those workers facing an economic crisis, while enhancing the profits of the highest earners.
For years successive governments have said our members can’t have inflation proofed pay rises because of how it will look. Now we can’t have a cost of living pay increase because they claim it will raise inflation. Our members will see that for the lie it is, as other workers have throughout the summer. Inflation is already at a 40-year high with wages deliberately held low; it is clearly not wage rises that has seen inflation spike.
In addition to the real terms, 10% plus pay cut imposed on our members this year, the Tories are also making public sector workers pay 2% more every month for their pensions based on government’s own forecast. This equates to a further 2% real terms pay cut and could be refunded to workers overnight, but they refuse to do so; instead choosing to offset it against their legal costs incurred when our union defeated them in the High Court.
PCS members have been telling us in their thousands of the struggles they face on a daily basis. Many having to claim benefits to make ends meet, skip meals, or take out high interest loans to pay for essentials such as food or pay bills. This will be a similar story across society, with entire communities struggling to make ends meet. Low paid workers, the sick and disabled, the vulnerable in society being thrown to the wolves while the Tories feather the nests of their own ahead of the next General Election.
Civil Service jobs targeted
If the cost of living crisis wasn’t enough, vital public services are coming under increasing strain, and with the prospect of over 90,000 job cuts in the Civil Service, they will be paralysed.
Already the government have tightened rules on benefit, with plans to make 114,000 additional claimants subject to a harsher regime to prove their eligibility for Universal Credit, while increasing the pressure on our members in DWP to impose conditionality and sanctions on existing claimants – including thousands of government workers.
If these job cuts are rolled out the devastation that will cause to the public cannot be overstated and tens of thousands of our members will face uncertain futures.
The pandemic showed the country the importance of the work our members do, yet just when the public need for those services grows the Tories will seek to play-off the public sector against private. Once again the real losers will be our class, worker and unemployed worker alike.
Fighting back is not optional
We have seen throughout the summer the inspirational fightback from workers across various sectors, including public transport, Royal Mail, universities and colleges.
Our own members in workplaces such as HGS – in the Disability and Barring Service – have taken 12 days of strike action over low pay and working conditions, while their private sector bosses creamed from the top and claimed record profits.
The mood has changed. Workers everywhere have realised now is the time to fight back and have been doing so.
For the next six weeks PCS members nationally have our opportunity to join that fight and it is one we must take.
The Tories are already doubling down on anti-trade union legislation, as they see workers demand better from the government and employers alike.
The moment for PCS members is now, to break through that 50% threshold and send a clear message – we have had enough of pay cut after pay cut; we have had enough of carrying a disproportionate burden at time of economic crisis; we have had enough of always having to carry the can for financial and ideological failures.
From the 26th September to the 7th November we all have one absolute priority. Ensure we have given PCS our upto date details and to vote in the ballot for better pay, pensions justice, job security, and to defend our redundancy terms.
The conditions for our members to hand an overwhelming mandate to our union have never been better. We must now collectively deliver that mandate and make the government and our respective employers sit up and take notice. A failure to do so would be disastrous for our members and the public we serve. The benefits of doing so would give real power to our union, and help us deliver improvements to our members living standards and working conditions.
The stakes could not be higher!
VOTE YES IN THE NATIONAL BALLOT
Martin Cavanagh, PCS Deputy President (pc)