Don’t mourn, Organise!

Members today will have received the news that whilst on a 45.2% turnout, we didn’t beat the threshold, we did deliver a massive Yes vote for our demands on pay and pensions, with 97.3% in support of our national pay claim, and 80.7% in favour of industrial action.

This result is our highest ever yes vote for industrial action, and the second highest ever turnout in a national ballot.

Whilst we all have aspired to get over the 50%, what a strong mandate to take into talks with our employers. If it weren’t for the anti-trade union laws, we would be singing this result from the rooftops. It reaffirms our decision not to move straight to a statutory ballot was the correct one, and the added engagement, where branches have actively discussed with members, has given us loads of data-cleansing information which can only strengthen us in the future.

As the cost of living crisis bites still further, with both council tax and National Insurance going up in April, members’ anger will grow, and the work done so far, will put is in a strong position to build from. Because the ballot was consultative, not statutory, in about a week’s time, the National Executive Committee (NEC) will be provided with a detailed breakdown by workplace, branch and group so that we can analyse where engagement, buy-in and activism was strong and where it was not so strong.

The NEC met today and had a positive initial discussion and will meet again to consider next steps when the data breakdown has been provided. The pandemic has provided us with many challenges, feedback from some branches during the ballot is that they struggled to make contact with some members who are working from home. The world of work is changing, reps and branches will need to carefully consider how we communicate and how we ensure we are able to keep in touch with, and actively engage, all members. This will be a discussion in every branch. 

The data will allow branches to see where they have been successful in their communications, and where we may need to adapt our methods to reach more members.

This is not a ‘blame game’, although there are some who will be quick to point fingers, especially as we near election time. The data, coupled with the use of more advanced digital methods, allow us all to look at where we can improve, what works and what doesn’t. It’s easy to feel despondent, but there are so many good messages to come from this result, and that highest ever Yes vote, arms us with the ammunition to go into talks and make ministers and employers listen.

A massive thank you to everyone who pulled out all of the stops. Reports of reps working tirelessly, on PCS Digital, on Callhub and through their conversations with our members, reinforce the message that reps’ hard work is paying dividends. The campaign has identified many new reps and advocates and gives us hope and confidence that we are moving in the right direction. 

Left Unity thanks all PCS activists for their efforts, the data will no doubt give us much food for thought, putting us in the best position to carefully determine next steps. In the face  of this hostile government, with more attacks on the horizon, we must remain positive and confident, giving members hope that PCS will campaign and fight for them. Together, we are always stronger.