Building Solidarity, Building Unity

As we escalate our Strike Campaign  and undergo re-ballloting, the determination of our members to Fight for Fair Pay, Save Jobs, Keep our compensation Scheme & for thePension payment correction, is unwavering. 

Last month I was out on 15th March with PCS HMRC Merseyside comrades, after HMRC beat the ballot threshold, and spent some time showing solidarity with Bootle Jobcentre & HSE Bootle. Afterwards I joined comrades from UCU, BMA & PCS for a joint rally in Liverpool, where I was also a speaker. Enthusiasm to keep fighting had not weakened from the amazing February 1st all- out strike and rally in Liverpool, which I stewarded after showing solidarity with PCS Pickets at West Derby & Everton Jobcentres, Liverpool Home Office, Liverpool Passport Office & Liverpool DBS, as well as UCU Liverpool School of Tropical  Medicine – Liverpool University, Liverpool John Moores University  & ASLEF. 

I have continued to show support and solidarity for our PCS pickets including Toxteth Jobcentre which is facing closure and supporting the Anti Closure campaign with Sarah Morton, Martin Cavanagh & Angela Grant. 

I was also recently out in Solidarity with RMT, and spoke at their rally on 18th March, which also included UN Anti-Racism Day. 

On Monday, I was out at the Liverpool Passport Office again,  as they started day 1 of their 5 week targeted strike. The picket got great support from the public and had a visit from Ian Byrne MP for West Derby, as well as PCS ARMS NW and the hard working PCS NW staff. 
On Thursday I spoke at the University of Liverpool UCU branch meeting about the PCS Dispute.

Our campaigns have much in common and UCU and PCS have been working together with other unions such as RMT, Unison, RCN, Unite, CWU,  BFAWU, NEU  and others with the Liverpool Trades Council under the banner of Liverpool Strike Solidarity Network. This has included having city centre stalls in the summer to encourage sign up to join unions, collections for strike funds and doing joint rallies and events, and working with relevant groups to protect the NHS, Anti Racism activities and Solidarity across pickets for the various ongoing disputes. 
The Liverpool University UCU branch passed on their Solidarity at the meeting, and they and others will  be showing us support on our PCS Walk Out, when we are all out on 28th April. The branch also pledged a £1,000 donation to our strike fund! Fantastic Solidarity. 

This month, we have seen thousands of members at AA grade get an automatic uplift to match the new National minimum wage NMW – some workers who administer the NMW have had to have a raise, whilst others delivering Universal Credit have to claim it themselves. 

The strategy of targeted strikes is proving to the Government our true worth, and the escalated action is enabling this to ramp up more. The next PCS Walk Out, on 28th April, will show them that our demands remain widely supported across all groups who smashed the threshold & we have the public and other unions on our side. 

Don’t forget to post your ballot paper back if your group is in the re-ballot. We have seen other unions winning their re-ballots with even better turnouts and mandates – as we are all determined to fight the draconian terms and conditions the government are trying to force on to all of us working for the public, delivering vital services for the most vulnerable and the for benefit of our national economy.

 Inflation is rising and so are we. 


Tracey Hylton

Tracey is standing for re-election to the PCS NEC as part of the Democratic Alliance slate. Click here to see the full Democratic Alliance slate.

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Speech by Austin Harney in protest against the attack on Al Aqsa Mosque

Solidarity to all Palestinian Trade Unions and Workers! Not only am I on the National Executive Committee and joint PCS Liaison Officer with Mohammed Shafiq who sends his apologies and greetings of solidarity, but, also, represent a branch that has the largest Muslim membership in the Ministry of Justice! I represent many Muslim members at work, especially against discrimination, ensured prayer room facilities on each floor and organised Islamophobia Awareness Month in my workplace, last year! Every Trade Union should organise Islamopbobia Awareness Month but there is nothing more shocking in the 21st Century when the Israeli forces arrested 450 Palestinians on Tuesday in the ancient mosque of Al Aqsa in East Jerusalem during Ramadan. The Israeli forces and are, still detaining 50 Palestinians whilst the rest were released bruised and beaten. On Wednesday, the Israeli forces fired stun grenades and used rifle buts to beat the Palestinians whilst they were praying. It is these injustices that all Trade Unions must expose on Islamophobia Awareness Month!

Al Aqsa was a sacred place of worship for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem until it was captured and annexed by the Israeli government in 1967 during the Six Day War. There has been a small extremist movement calling for the mosque in Al Aqsa to be demolished and replaced by a Jewish Temple. But this movement has mushroomed and is, now, a powerful organisation supported by Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. Last year in April 2022, Al Aqsa was raided by 48,000 Israeli settlers. In April 2021, the Israeli forces attacked and injured hundreds of Palestinian worshippers including women, children and the elderly seven times in 10 days. At the same time, 700 Israeli settlers roamed outside Al Aqsa but none were arrested.

It is clear that the Israeli government can get away with these atrocities and it is not enough that we vociferate these protests. Two powerful governments are equally to blame of which are in Britain and the United States! These two governments have, cowardly, surrendered to Islamophobia and Apartheid committed within Israel! It is time that we hold all these governments to account. We cannot forget the Sykes – Picot Agreement in 1916 of which the British and French governments partitioned the Middle East. Also, we cannot forget the Balfour Declaration of 1917 of which the colonisation programme of Palestine was started in 1926! I, only, received the last minute invitation to speak at this demonstration at 12.00, last night. But I was happy to give up part of my Good Friday as my family’s country, Ireland, is the first nation in the European Union to impose a boycott of the Israeli Settler goods. The term “Boycott” originally comes from Ireland when William Erskine Boycott was “shunned as a leper of old” for evicting many Irish people from their lands. Balfour was known in Ireland as “Bloody Balfour” for evicting many Irish tenants. It is not enough that one country such as Ireland imposes Boycott Divestment Sanctions on the Israeli government. All governments must do the same including that of Britain and the United States in order to force the establishment of Israel to stop these atrocities committed on the Palestinian people! We must, also, pressurise all political parties in Westminster to hold this British government to account including Her Majesty’s Opposition to speak out and criticise, heavily, in Parliament!

We call on this Israeli government to stop all the bombings of Gaza that was committed last night, the colonisation of the West Bank, the return of the Palestinian Diaspora to their homes in Palestine, and fight for the rights of all Palestinian Trade Unions and Workers! Imperialism can beat us into the ground but it will never break our spirits! If we lose, today, we will never give up! We will come back in the next generation and generation after until we have smashed imperialism and achieved natural justice! Solidarity to all the Palestinian people!

Austin Harney

Austin is standing for re-election to the PCS NEC as part of the Democratic Alliance slate. Click here to see the full Democratic Alliance slate.

Keep in touch with PCS Left Unity posts and events

Workers Memorial Day – April 28th 2023 – a day for remembrance and action

Every year on Workers Memorial Day we remember workers who have been killed or injured at work with a key message…remember the dead and fight for the living.

Workers Memorial Day came about due to events throughout history, where employer and government failures led to the preventable deaths of workers and dates to commemorate trade unions winning legal battles to protect rights to safety at work.

The recent pandemic posed, and is still posing, a number of health and safety risks and highlighted to many who had previously seen health and safety as a nuisance, the importance of union safety reps and risk assessments. Today, more than ever, Health and Safety reps are working hard to keep our work places safe in an ever changing work environment.

Left Unity led our union through the most challenging period many of us have ever faced. Both at national and group level, it was Left Unity members negotiating policy and holding the employer to account, allowing reps on the ground to keep a members and their families as safe as possible.

Nothing has changed, as it is still Left Unity leading the current fight back to the latest risk to workers safety and wellbeing.

Traditionally on Workers Memorial Day, we organise health and safety activities across our workplaces. This year is slightly different. The threat posed to workers by the cost of living crisis and in work poverty to our physical and mental wellbeing cannot be overstated. So for this year the fight for the living means withdrawing your labour and participating in our latest strike action. This is one of the biggest fights we’ve had in a long time and it’s crucial that we are all involved.

Support the Strike action on the 28th April

Participate in the picket lines

Return your ballot paper

Observe the Workers’ Memorial Day one-minute silence at midday


Carol Revell DWP Group Safety Officer and Left Unity Member

Carol is standing for re-election to the DWP GEC as part of the Left Unity slate. To see the full Left Unity DWP GEC slate click here

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Five week Passport Office strike off to a fantastic start

Today marks the start of five weeks of industrial action targeting passport examination staff across HMPO production sites. That’s a huge undertaking, involving around 1,500 members on strike for an extended period.

This morning saw huge picket lines outside of Peterborough, London, Newport, Belfast, Glasgow, Liverpool, Durham, and Southport offices. It was a cold start to the day, but we brought the sunshine with us, which in turn brought large numbers of members down to support the strike and the pickets were especially notable for the number of young members who were present. Morale was high with members excited about the prospect of really making a difference.

The strike is fully linked into our national strategy; we identified an area which could deliver the greatest impact – that’s passport production. We recognised that we needed to wait to target a time of year when applications had started to pick up – that’s now. We also knew we needed a significant period of action so that backlogs developed, and the greatest leverage created – that’s five weeks, well to start with…

We’ve already seen loads of media coverage and we’re hoping this only increases. This is a strike designed to win, it’s a huge outlay from our strike fund and demonstrates our commitment to maximising and escalating the pressure we are putting the government under.

The ability of the union to fund strike pay has been key in our strategy, there’s no way that we could have asked this group of members to go out for 5 weeks unpaid or funded through donations to hardship funds. Financially that’s completely unviable but they are also striking on behalf of all our members in PCS. Our national action encompasses the strikes in the Government Digital Service, the British Library and all the other areas we have targeted so far.

We are also looking forward to the action on the 28 April. This gives an opportunity for all those members not covered by the passport action to join in and demonstrate solidarity. That’s in addition to the solidarity we are all showing via the levy we are all paying that is allowing to prosecute such significant action as that in the passport office.

We have already seen over 600 new members join the passport office within the last two weeks since this action was announced. We have also had new reps come forward and we are hoping to increase and diversify our activist base.

This action has excited young members in the workplace. Young members are disproportionately affected by the extortionate rental market, let alone the ever-receding dream of being able to buy. Many of them have huge student loans taking a percentage of their pay every month. They have seen coverage of strikes on the news and now they know they have a union which is also in the fightback. The strikes and picket lines are inspiring and politicising the next generation of trade unionists our movement needs.

We know that this is significant action, but we also know that we have to ensure we renew our ballot because we need to be ready to continue into the next six months. Make sure you vote, take part in the 28 April all member action, and visit a passport office picket line! Together we can build the union, inspire new reps and ultimately win the pay rise all our members deserve and need.

Karen Alderson

Karen is standing for the NEC on the Democracy Alliance slate. The full slate can be found here ->

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Challenge the Government’s Anti-Migrant Bill on all fronts – PCS Left Unity

First published on Labour Outlook

“The demonisation of asylum seekers belittles the serious problems that need to be addressed and seeks to utilise the issue as a political tool… a smokescreen for the real problems that exist in the country”

By James Cox, PCS Left Unity

The Illegal Migration Bill isn’t just rightly causing alarm in wider society but is also causing significant concern within the Home Office. 

My union, PCS, represents members working within the Home Office, the department responsible for Border Force, asylum consideration and the immigration system. We are receiving frequent concerns from members about the legality and implications of the Bill. The primary issue is clearly what appears to be the removal of the right to claim asylum from what are deemed to be ‘illegal’ entrants.

This potentially puts us on collision course with the 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Some believe that this is the point of the legislation, or that it is designed to fail. But the implication that these Human Rights should no longer be universal but apply only to those humans the government of the day decide, is ominously authoritarian.

The clear inference is that some humans are more deserving than others. Something the previous Nationality and Borders Act did to British Citizenship and its ability to be withdrawn. This authoritarianism isn’t just in the field of asylum; you only have to look at the proposed legislation which seeks to erode the fundamental right to strike to see that this government is intent on creating a human rights framework which is pick and mix to their own desire. 

Members of PCS union are proud of the work they do securing the safety of thousands of individuals a year. But it isn’t straight forward and PCS members in the Home Office are no strangers to crises and there’s a feeling of lurching from one to another.

The Windrush Lessons Learnt Review rightly shone a light on departmental practices which gave rise to the shocking treatment of numerous members of the Windrush generation. But since that publication of the report, a couple of the recommendations have now been dropped, and instead of the rolling back of the hostile environment this new Bill seeks to supercharge it.

Our members also point to recommendations that seek to address the failure of staff to treat people as individuals and be more human and empathetic in their responses. Instead, the Prime Minister names as one of his five targets “stopping the boats”. The dehumanising language of referring to boats, rather than the desperate individuals on them, is telling. It seeks to divert attention from the fact many of these individuals are being trafficked, many are in poor health, and all are desperate enough to make the journey.  It also takes no account of the fact that the majority are also granted asylum following consideration of applications.

The rising rhetoric of course has consequences, with the Home Secretary as one of the worst offenders in this regard. Her talk of an invasion is the kind of language that might see one of our members working in the department taken to task. Instead, it potentially fuels terrorist attacks in Dover and violent disturbances outside hotels. This puts some of the most vulnerable in society in greater danger and risks re-traumatising those fleeing persecution.

The demonisation of asylum seekers belittles the serious problems that need to be addressed and seeks to utilise the issue as a political tool. Of course, as others have pointed out, it is also a smokescreen for the real problems that exist in the country around inequality, housing, health provision and welfare. Of course, we all want to prevent refugees having to risk their lives making dangerous journeys across the channel but in the absence of legal routes they have little choice.

As Civil Servants we are tasked with implementing the policies of the government of the day. However, this does not prevent us from having opinions on the work we do and its through our union that we can argue for change and social justice.

We’ve done this in HMRC with work with the Tax Justice Network and in the DWP with proposals about the future of Welfare, we are also keen to set out an alternative approach around Immigration. That’s why PCS have produced a booklet around humanitarian visas to implement safe and legal routes to the UK. This counters the narrative that there are no alternatives in dealing with the issues around channel crossings.

We have also been part of collective legal action around the pushback policy and the Rwanda scheme. As a trade union PCS wants to connect the people who provide services with those who use or need those services. Its essential the false divisions, which the new Migration Bill seeks to entrench further are dispelled.

So, whilst there will be many who are hoping that the Illegal Migration legislation doesn’t pass through parliament or is challenged legally, there will also be numerous Civil Servants also hoping and campaigning for a similar outcome.

James is standing for re-election to the PCS NEC as part of the Democratic Alliance slate. Click here to see the full Democratic Alliance slate.

Keep in touch with PCS Left Unity posts and events

We need to stand up against anti refugee racism

The small town of Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan, with its picturesque coastline and popular beaches that combine to make it one of the most desirable postcodes in Wales is not the most obvious site to find oneself in the vanguard of the struggle against fascist hate. However, on Saturday, the narrow winding streets of the usually sleepy town became a crucible in that fight as as a coalition of local residents and activists from the surrounding areas came together to take a stand for love and compassion in the face of fascist hate.   

Events came to a head in Llantwit on Saturday after the word reached local activists that ‘Patriotic Alternative’ (a group widely described as fascist, neo-Nazi and white Nationalist) was planning a demonstration against council plans to house refugees in the town. On Saturday, along with my wife, my nine-month-old baby son (attending his first anti-fascist demonstration – start them early!) and comrades from the R&C Wales branch, I made the short journey from my home in Bridgend to attend the counterdemonstration. A crowd estimated to be in excess of 200 marched through the town in a show of strength aimed at demonstrating that refugees are welcome and that contrary to the hate sown by the enemy, South Wales remains the compassionate place I have always known it to be.

In what must now be a familiar scenario for their paltry activist base, ‘Patriotic Alternative’ were routed in Llantwit Major. Corralled by the police in a field near the town centre, they  had no option but to accept that, as the pro-refugee demonstrators chanted ‘there are many, many more of us than you’ Outnumbered over ten to one, the far-right agitators packed up their banners and to the cheers of the crowd, hot-footed it back to the station. In the event, such was the paucity of their numbers, they could probably have shared a couple taxis home. The current wider context of UK politics rarely for anything other than a state of extreme vigilance about the poisonous effect of the far-right on British society but on a sunny Saturday on the South Wales coast I allowed myself to feel content and proud that my corner of the world had come together to show hate the door.

I want to conclude by talking about why as a trade-unionist, a Socialist and a member of Left Unity, I felt it so important to attend on Saturday. As a Socialist, compassion for the most vulnerable groups is written through my ideals, morals, and politics like a stick of rock. As a trade unionist, I believe that we should always aspire to be more than a workplace pressure group with limited finite concerns. We are a campaigning union, or we are nothing. We in PCS are a mass membership organisation with a democratic mandate built on the trust of our members. We must continue to stand up for the values of compassion and tolerance like the community in Llantwit Major did on Saturday. Be it as a bulwark against policies like sending asylum seekers to Rwanda or in the tireless work of our activists across the spectrum of equality issues. We must continue to show the courage to lead where politicians too often fear to tread and to build the broad coalition that will never allow far-right hate to flourish.

Sean Dwyer

Sean is a Left Unity candidate for the R&C GEC. To see the full Left Unity slate for the R&C GEC click here

15th March, further targeted action and the need to win the reballot

A fantastic show of strength

Wednesday 15th March was fantastic! Full of enthusiasm, optimism and hope. That feeling that you’re part of something much bigger.

PCS members and reps filled picket lines in record numbers. Feedback from reps and branches was at least as many, if not more, out than last time. Many young workers striking for the first time, getting a feel for what it’s all about.

I visited seven or eight London picket lines during the morning, joined by General Secretary, Mark Serwotka and chair of the PCS Parliamentary group, Chris Stephens. Our picket lines were loud, they were determined. Full of flags, placards and the new, red PCS beanies.

We marched from Embankment to Downing Street, the chants and cheers ringing in our ears, especially as we marched past Westminster, knowing that MPs were inside those walls, taking decisions about the budget and where taxpayers’ money would be spent, and not spent, in the midst of the cost of living crisis.

Our own PCS rally, outside Downing Street was big and loud. As I stood up to speak, all you could see were yellow flags, red beanies and at the back, or front, depending on your perspective, the massive PCS balloon.

The highlight for me was our 4 young strikers, who got up to describe their experiences of leading and organising action, some for the first time. We had powerful solidarity speeches from president of the RMT, Alex Gordon, and Kim Johnson, MP for Liverpool Riverside, alongside our own Mark Serwotka.

Then, with heads held high, led by the impressive PCS Samba Band, we marched into Trafalgar Square, to join thousands of strikers and supporters from other unions.

At this rally, hosted by the NEU, both Mark and I addressed the huge crowd that had gathered, alongside speakers from other unions striking and others, all calling for unity and solidarity.

That overwhelming message of solidarity is what was best about 15th March, giving us all a lift and making clear we would stand together and stand up to this government.

Targeted Action ramping up

It is clear that the strategy adopted is giving us unprecedented leverage. Sustained targeted action, alongside all-member action, that massive show of strength, when it can have the most impact. Maximising pressure on government and employers, minimising the financial impact on members during the cost of living crisis.

The National Disputes Committee continues to authorise submissions from many different groups and work areas, making the campaign impossible to ignore.

Just this week, we have announced that over 1000 Passport Office members from all across the UK will walk out for 5 weeks, causing possibly the most significant disruption yet.

Also taking action will be National Highways staff, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency members, including driving examiners and test centre staff, the British Library and the British Museum.

Many more areas are now making submissions for further areas to target action. Alongside all-member action, and the show of strength that demonstrates, this really is a strategy designed to have the biggest impact, becoming more and more difficult to ignore.

Now to win the reballot

The NEC meets on Monday to take stock and agree next steps, but it’s clear we are now in the strongest position that we have been in for decades.To maintain that position of strength though, we have a very important task ahead of us.

Our current mandate runs out on 7th May. We are now running our renewal ballot from 20th March to 9th May. It is crucial that, in order to maintain that pressure and leverage on the government to get around the table and talk to us, we beat the threshold in the reballot resoundingly.

The areas that have recently joined the action, such as HMRC, will not be part of the reballot, as they now have their mandate. For the rest of us that are though, we must strain every sinew to make sure that we don’t let government off the hook.

If they thought that they could sit out our mandate until it ended, they would do. In order to put pressure on them to get into talks that we are seeing elsewhere in the movement, we must send the clearest message via this renewal ballot that we are not going away, and that the way to resolve the dispute is to talk to us and put money on the table.

This will be a massive collective effort. Working together we can do this. It requires good levels of organising and membership engagement. We have learnt so much from what we have done so far, it is well within our gift to, not just beat the threshold this time around, but to smash it.

It would be a mistake to believe though, that this will just happen. It will take effort and hard work, reaching out to our members and giving them confidence in the strategy, the campaign and the strength of our position.

Nobody said that this would be a quick dispute, that it would be resolved immediately. What we do in the next 6 weeks will determine the success of our campaign. We really are on the cusp of something significant, but it requires us to hold our nerve, not be distracted by those that would seek to divert us, and work together to deliver the strongest renewal ballot result that we can, and we will do that best by working together.

Good luck with your efforts in your branch and please contact any of us within Left Unity if you need help or support.

Fran Heathcote

Fran is re-standing for PCS national president as part of the Democratic Alliance. The full Democratic Alliance slate can be found here –

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Fantastic show of strength & Solidarity in Cardiff on Budget Day

Left Unity members in HMRC Wales branch worked incredibly hard in the run up to the 15th March strike, leafletting, talking to members one on one, contacting all members via their personal email. 

In the weeks before the day we contacted other employer groups within the Cardiff Hub and held several strike organising meetings. Two days before the strike we held an all members meeting via zoom which was really well attended. 

All that hard work really paid off on the day itself. 

By 7am we already had a strong vibrant picket line of around 10 pickets which just kept growing. Faces old and new, reps, advocates and ordinary members arrived throughout the morning. We were joined by PCS reps from the Valuation Office and Prospect reps from HSE, by 8.30 the picket itself was 40 strong. And more people kept coming! 

For many of those present it was their first experience of industrial action, but any trepidation anyone had quickly disappeared as the mood was one of solidarity despite the cold with many  members of the public stopping to express their support. 

From 11.30 trade unionists from across Cardiff began to arrive for the rally that took place outside the Cardiff Government Hub. The sight of PCS members with flags, hats and banners from Welsh Government, DWP, Home Office and National Museum of Wales (among others) pouring into the square was magnificent and followed by striking UCU members who marched across the city behind their banner to join us for speeches and chanting. 

All in all a fantastic day, the mood was one of determination and anger at the Tories over pay and the cost of living but also anger at the way that this government is attacking refugees and trying to use their racist rhetoric to divide us. When our movement works together we are strong and that was very evident on the streets of Cardiff on Budget Day. 

Marianne Owens

Marianne is standing for re-election to the NEC as part of the Democracy Alliance. Click here to see the Democracy Alliance slate