Organising at the Nottingham Government Hub

Ian Lawther recruiting at the Nottingham hub

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.

In solidarity

Paul Williams

PCS DfT East Midlands Branch Secretary

PCS National Statutory Ballot – Vote! Vote! Vote! NOW!

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!

PCS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN – A FIGHT WE MUST WIN! A FIGHT WE CAN WIN!

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.

Economic Crisis

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)

PCS Strikers Join with Unions in Liverpool to say ‘Enough is Enough!’

On Saturday, as PCS members from Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) took their sixth day of strike action in the fight for better pay, Liverpool saw a mass demonstration by unions, and activists from across the region as thousands attended the Enough is Enough strike rally organised by the RMT.

As the organisers prepared the marchers to set off, our PCS members marched from the picket line to join them, arriving to cheers of support and shouts of solidarity as PCS banners and flags were held high.

The rally was organised by RMT Union as they move again into industrial action against the attacks on working conditions, the holding down of pay, and job insecurity, TSSA were also taking action the same day against low pay and working conditions.

The rally moved to St Georges Hall where speakers from unions and community groups called for unity and solidarity, as we build to move en masse to take our fight to the government and the bosses. The calls resonated with the crowd as they began the chant ‘enough is enough, enough is enough!’

PCS Deputy President Martin Cavanagh of PCS Left Unity made a rousing speech as he brought solidarity to the striking unions and all workers in struggle, highlighting that PCS members’ pay has fallen 20% behind inflation since 2010, creating a cost of living crisis. Martin also highlighted the pensions robbery, the risk of redundancies in Civil Service as Government come after our redundancy terms. As companies make record profits and huge dividends are paid out to shareholders the working class are expected to take hit after hit. Giving a shout out from the top of the FBU fire engine to our HGS strikers in the crowd, and a rallying cry ahead of our statutory ballot in September where our union will join others in the fight as we too say enough is enough, Martin told the crowd PCS will stand shoulder to shoulder with all workers as workers united will never be defeated.

Eddie Dempsey RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary began his contribution looking back to the unity of our class in the general strike of 1911, recognising that RMT was born from that struggle on the very cobbles at St Georges Hall where the crowd now stood – a telegram was sent telling transport workers to ‘strike now, loyalty to each will mean liberty for all’ and it is that unity that wins for workers. Moving to ask the crowd to think of people they know, family, people they love, struggling with low wages, rotten landlords, no social care, as how we act now will determine whether we live in dignity in old age, whether there will be jobs and houses, an education system and a health service, because all of those services are in the spotlight. We must turn the tide, fight to protect our NHS, to protect our services, to nationalise industry and utilities, as those services are safer in our hands than in the hands of profiteers.

Every speaker gave inspiration to the crowd, and everyone in attendance is clearly ready for the fight back. The message that ran through the day was that enough is enough, and we are ready to fight for what is rightfully ours. PCS Left Unity members are working to build within our membership to that end. We have our national ballot beginning 26th September and we must ensure we have spoken to every single member to ensure that they understand the importance of this ballot and that we have their ballot address.

We cannot lose this, anything other than a massive win will mean devastation for PCS members and their families, and a certain decline in the services we provide. So let’s win this PCS! In the words of Eddie Dempsey, we do what we do for our families and our loved ones, we must fight as if their lives depend on it – because they do!

Perth Prime Minister Hustings – Scottish People Reject the Tory Freakshow

The Tories don’t like Scotland, this much was evident when they experimented and introduced the hated Poll Tax a year before introducing it into the UK, and has been more evident since.

They understand they can be no more than an opposition party in Scotland and it truly galls them that people don’t rally round images like former Scottish leader Ruth Davidson adorned with a union jack on top of a tank (nouveau William of Orange on a white charger?), where they have to crawl to base sectarian anti-nationalism to retain a political foothold in Scotland.

The vast majority of Scottish people reject that right-wing agenda and have shown that by corralling Nigel Farage in a pub to be extracted by the police, to demonstrations for every Tory Minister who have dared to cross the border for some by-election photo opportunity in some remote undisclosed location on the fly – to be met with the cry of “Tories Out” or more harsher rebukes.

Perth nailed that track record, perhaps not with numbers (around 800), but with a fervour and political enthusiasm that included a diverse variation of Scottish working class people.

At the Protest, called by Perth Against Racism, there were speakers from Trade Unions, Human Rights Groups, Anti-Racist Groups, Independence platforms all calling for unity against the Tory Party’s anti-working class racist agenda. The word most used was probably “inhumane” in relation to the Pushback policy and Rwanda flights, but also for the many people starving now, who the foodbanks can’t support or will die this winter because of energy prices and the cost of living crisis.

In truth the Tory leadership contest, where they have hijacked a willing media into the longest party political right-wing freakshow ever… has only consolidated activists’ momentum towards removing the Tories, building unifying bridges where historical political divides (on the left) have sometimes been elusive.

The event was a triumph and Catriona Mackay (Perth Against Racism), compered the event brilliantly adding to the listed speakers and opening-up for speakers from other organisations present who felt compelled to direct their rage at the Tory’s inhumane policies. All in unity, often quoting points made by previous speakers.

Scotland’s newspaper blunt instrument equivalent to the Sun, the Daily Record, carries the headline “Tories pelted with eggs ahead of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss debate in Perth”, the hyperbole somewhat undermined by the accompanying picture of smiling protestors, some families, holding placards welcoming refugees and migrants, supporting railworkers, Black Lives Matter and calling for Pay Rises. Yes, eggs were thrown, but there was a bit more going on than omelettes. Yes, some demonstrators got agitated by the spectacle of some powerful, some wannabees and privileged people full of self-importance arrogantly parading into the Perth Concert Hall – outcome minor tussling. After-all you can’t have a Protest without a bit of tussling, you have gotta have a tussle or two. No-one was arrested, enough said. By far the hardest punch thrown was the thorough blasting of the chants “Refugees are Welcome Here”, “Tories Out” and “F#ck the Tory’s” from protestors, and the robust political points from speakers.

That list of speakers included Perth Against Racism, PCS, GMB, STUC Black Workers Committee, Unite, SUTR, Afghan Human Rights Foundation and an NHS Activist Plus many more! In addition to the speakers there was outstanding music from Alan Carberry and Sophie Stanisforth who rocked the protest between speakers making political points and protestors jeering the Tories, both of whom threw a bit of well-aimed abuse the Tories way.

Every speaker was welcomed enthusiastically, every speaker called for working class unity (obviously some did not use the phrase “working class”, but you get the gist), every speaker made hard hitting points on the Cost of Living Crisis and deaths which will come leaving blood on the hands of the Tories, Inhumane Tory Policies and of course flights to Rwanda and other breaches of human rights perpetrated by the Tories. As a Left Unity NEC member, I was overcome by the protests response to PCS role in the legal challenge to Rwanda flights, warmly supported by those attendant, with appreciative remarks coming from other speakers.

Despite there being transport difficulties (weather related), my train to Perth was cancelled and I had to get a replacement bus to Perth, there were up to 800 at the Protest – no mean feat for a rather out of the way Scottish destination of a working day! Special shout out to the RMT workers at Glasgow Queen Street, who when they found out I was travelling to the Perth Protest as a union speaker quickly ushered me on to the first replacement bus they could and also a shout out to Glasgow Against Racism who let me on their bus back to Glasgow near the end of the event.

The icing on the cake is the fact that the Protest has left in its wake many f#cked off Tories, where the event could be characterised as a Political Protest of real significance, with a small Tory hustings tagged on.

Hope this has given you a bit of a flavour of the Perth Protest.

Fittingly I will end on the call for every PCS activist and member to work hard on getting ballot ready and turning out that YES, YES vote in the ballot – Enough is Enough, Tories Out!

John Jamieson (NEC personal capacity)

Solidarity with CWU strikes

Assuming the Tory austerity agenda of the last 12 years didn’t affect your regular route, it feels a bit like waiting for a bus doesn’t it? You spend an age waiting for an organised fightback by workers for better pay and conditions, then suddenly loads turn up at once.

On 29th July and 1st August, 40,000 CWU members in BT and Openreach took strike action for the first time in 35 years and PCS members joined in solidarity with them on picket lines up and down the country. Solidarity on the picket line is important. It’s not just a photo-op for social media likes; it means that at a grassroots level we network and engage with workers in other sectors, we share ideas and experiences from current and past struggles. We listen and we learn, gauge public opinion – resoundingly in favour since you asked judging by the honking of horns and positive comments from passers-by.

It shows we have had their backs in this dispute and make no mistake, they will have our backs should we strike later.

Many of the struggles and grievances of CWU members are ours. Like many in PCS, CWU members were classed as key workers during the pandemic. None of what we did and still do would be possible without the hard work and dedication of CWU members. While we were working at home delivering benefits and furlough money, or processing DBS checks for job applicants, CWU members provided, maintained and delivered the infrastructure 24/7 to enable us to work remotely, to deliver pay and benefits, to check in on our loved ones remotely, to shop remotely, to “attend” funerals, to have Zoom quizzes! etc.

Like many of us in PCS they are also low paid with many claiming in-work benefits to get by. Like us they are fighting against real terms pay cuts in the face of rising inflation fueled by profiteering rather than wages and attacks on their pensions and demanding a 10% pay rise for workers which, like us, they deserve.


Last year, BT Group made a profit in excess of £1.3 billion which was more than enough to meet an inflation matching pay rise. What did BT do? They imposed a flat £1,500.00 pay rise for their workforce while their CEO, Philip Jansen, received a £3.5 million pay package, effectively a 32% pay rise. To add insult to injury, £700 million was paid out to shareholders. It is also reported that at least one BT office set up a food bank to assist employees, earning the CEO the nickname “Food Bank Phil”. A further £400m profit was announced for the first quarter of this year just hours before the second day of strike action. It is hardly surprising then that 95.8% of Openreach engineers and 91.5% of BT members voted for industrial action.


This is where I sound a note of urgent caution about what we can learn from our CWU friends. As you are probably aware, BT Group also includes the mobile phone giant EE who achieved union recognition in 2019. EE members were also balloted and a whopping 95.5% of them who voted were also in favour of industrial action. Unfortunately for them, they fell short of the 50% threshold by just 8 votes meaning they could not join their colleagues in BT and Openreach in taking strike action. They were crushed but galvanised and they will learn from this and so must we in PCS.

Some of our members are keen to get out of the blocks and ballot for strike action right now if not weeks ago. This is understandable but the simple truth is we are not ballot ready yet – individual branches and departments may be but this has to be a concerted and unified message to Government across the Civil Service. Anti-union legislation by successive Tory governments places bumps and barriers in the road such as postal ballots only for industrial action and the 50% turnout thresholds.

In our consultative ballot in March we may have sent a strong message to Government of our willingness to take industrial action for fair pay but turnout was 45.2 %. There is work to be done and currently there is a massive push within PCS to ensure member records are bang up to date with names, addresses, work locations and grades correct to maximise turnout in a postal ballot and fend off the risk of any legal challenges.

If I may stretch the earlier bus analogy a little further, the PCS bus is currently in the depot being serviced to ensure it is roadworthy and resilient but there is much to learn from the experience of EE. Among our membership are the tools and resources to do this so if a rep or branch official contacts you to update records, please be nice and confirm them. It could be the difference between having insulting pay deals imposed on us or reaching that 50% threshold that will force them to listen. The ballot opens on 26th September and closes 6 weeks later.


You can show your solidarity to CWU by emailing your MP courtesy of an easy to complete template which only takes a minute to complete (link below)

https://www.cwu.org/about-the-cwu/cwu-in-politics/write-to-your-mp/bt-openreach-support

Dylan Wilson

Solidarity with the rail strikes

PCS Left Unity members from the DWP GEC were proud to show solidarity with RMT strikers in Leeds this morning.

RMT members are striking because the rail companies have frozen their pay and want to cut rail services, whilst at the same time cutting thousands of rail workers’ jobs.

Rail workers are taking strike action as a last resort to defend their jobs, pay and conditions and to protect the services they provide to the public. 

Whilst the rail companies are threatening all of this, they made a fortune during the COVID-19 pandemic. £300 million profit for companies who operate trains, £949 million profit for companies who own the trains and £235 million profit for companies who repair the tracks.

80% of profits go to foreign-owned companies. On average the rail companies are making £500 million profit per year.

We all need to support the RMT in their action as it affects all of us. There is huge public support for this action, as was evident in Leeds this morning. RMT General Secretary, Mick Lynch, has eloquently explained the issues and the background to the dispute and more and more people are understanding the need to fight back against this rotten government. 

Liz Truss was on the news today talking about the need to tighten up anti-trade union legislation still further and make it even harder for workers to withdraw their labour. It is clear that whoever wins the Tory leadership contest, they’re coming for us.

PCS members are urged to support the RMT action, and all workers in dispute, and do all we can to prepare for our own ballot in September as the cuts to our pay and conditions intensify. 

Together we are all stronger.

Solidarity with the rail strikes

click on the image to download as PDF

The Railworkers’ strike this week is an opportunity to start a massive offensive against the Tories. Members of the RMT Union working for Network Rail and 13 train operating companies will be out this Tuesday 21 June, this Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June fighting for an above inflation pay rise. On Tuesday they will be joined by 11,000 London Underground workers in the RMT and Unite fighting 600 job cuts.

Train cleaners working for outsourcing company Churchill on GTR, Network Rail, HS1 and South East Trains are already on strike for £15 an hour, sick pay and free travel. 

We should support all of these workers by going to their pickets line with PCS flags, banners and solidarity snacks. This will raise their confidence that they have support especially if they’re getting grief from the media. But it also means we can learn from their experience of organising at work and getting the vote out across different rail companies and sections. These lessons will help us stop office closures and help win our ballot in September on pay, pensions and the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

In Manchester a group of us will be visiting the pickets at Piccadilly Station on Tuesday morning from 7.30am. We’re Meeting by the Bulls Head pub on the big crossroads with Fairfield St close to the short term parking behind the station. I encourage everyone to organise delegations to visit the picket lines.

The cost of living crisis is an emergency we can fight learning from Railworkers experiences. They are leading the fight and we must do everything we can to support them from picket line visits, office collections and messages of support.

If the Railworkers win, it will make it more likely that we will win and that will be a victory for our whole class.

Sarah Ensor