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