Complaints procedure for members

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. PCS standards of behaviour
  3. Dealing with complaints
  4. Rights of members
  5. How to make a complaint
  6. Complaints about a PCS employee
  7. Complaints relating to issues which ‘seriously prejudice’ the national union interests (Supplementary Rule 10 complaints)

Introduction

PCS prides itself on being a progressive, democratic, member-led union and treats complaints from members very seriously.

The union derives its power and influence from workers joining together to achieve common goals such as protecting jobs, improving pay and conditions, ensuring workplaces are safe and free from discrimination and promoting trade union values. 

We are more likely to achieve those goals when our collective strength is underpinned by good working relationships and mutual respect for other PCS members. Harmony, cooperation and understanding make us stronger. Festering complaints and unresolved grievances weaken our resolve and unity.

PCS reps are volunteers, often working in their own time, to represent members’ interests at the workplace. We pride ourselves on the quality and professionalism of our representation.

However, when things go wrong, we aim to put things right quickly. This procedure sets out a process for members to follow should they wish to make a complaint or are unable to resolve a serious difference at local, branch or group level without third party assistance.

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PCS standards of behaviour

PCS believes that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and that any kinds of behaviours that undermine these basic rights will not be tolerated. The standards expected are set out in our PCS Harassment Protocol (which can be downloaded from the PCS website).

The most serious complaints, involving allegations which are considered by the National Executive Committee (NEC) to have potentially ‘seriously prejudiced’ the interests of the union, are dealt with by a separate procedure.

Complaints against a full-time officer of the union are also dealt with by a separate process.

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Dealing with complaints

This procedure is intended to ensure that PCS members are aware that:

  • Any member or branch wishing to make a complaint or seek mediation knows how to do so;
  • The union responds to the complaint quickly and in a sensitive, courteous and efficient way;
  • Members’ complaints are taken seriously and properly dealt with;
  • The union learns from the complaints and where complaints are found to be justified, takes appropriate measures.

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Rights of members

Nothing contained in this complaint and mediation procedure replaces the right of members and reps to refer a complaint about union services, structures and personnel direct to the General Secretary or the rights of members under the rules and constitution of PCS or contract law.

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How to make a complaint

The procedure has three stages:

Stage 1 – Informal/problem solving

Many complaints or potential complaints can be resolved quickly by discussing the complaint with your PCS branch or PCS group.

This is where the process should start and, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the informal stage should be exhausted as a first step.

Complaints at stage one may be made either in writing or by email to the Branch Chair.  In the event that the Branch Chair is the subject of the complaint, the complaint should be referred to the Group or Occupational Association President.

Early intervention mediation could be considered as a means of a resolving the complaint at this informal stage and branches should seek the advice from the Group President if this is a viable option.

Stage 2 – Formal complaint

This stage involves a formal complaint concerning a PCS accredited lay official(s) or another member(s) (see complaint form attached).

The complaint should be made in writing using the complaints form and sent to the PCS Deputy President (complaintsdeppres@pcs.org.uk). To aid the investigation it would be helpful if the complainant clearly stated what they would like PCS to do and the outcome they seek.

The complainant will receive an acknowledgement of the complaint. Regard will be given to the complexities of the case concerned, but it is the union’s intention to complete the investigation process and respond to the complaint within one month. The member will be advised of the reasons for any delay. 

The PCS Deputy President in consultation with the relevant Group President or Occupational Association President (or Group or Occupational Association Vice President in the event that the Group or Occupational Association President is the subject of the complaint), will appoint a senior lay official or ask the General Secretary to appoint a full time officer, who will investigate the complaint and determine whether it is justified.

The investigating officer will advise the member of the findings and any action that will be taken after consulting the Deputy President.

At the conclusion of the investigation the complainant will be informed that if they remain dissatisfied with the way that their complaint has been dealt with, they can request a review of the decision by the National President.

Such an application must be made within 28 days of the date of the letter from the Investigating Officer. This review is stage 3.

In the event that the National or Deputy President is the subject of complaint the complaint should be referred to the General Secretary.

Stage 3 – Decision review

A request for a review of the investigating officer’s decision should be made in writing to the National President (complaintspres@pcs.org.uk).

The complainant will receive an acknowledgement. The National President will request a report from the investigating officer and review relevant paperwork.

Regard will be given to the complexities of the case but it is the union’s intention to respond to the review process within one month. The member will be kept advised of the reasons for any delay.

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Complaints about a PCS employee

Complaints about the behaviour or actions of a PCS employee are dealt with separately from this procedure. Complaints of this nature should be sent directly to the General Secretary’s office (complaintsgensec@pcs.org.uk).

The General Secretary’s office will make enquiries about the complaint as considered necessary. The General Secretary, or a senior officer appointed by the General Secretary, will write to the member within one month of the complaint being received.

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Complaints relating to issues which ‘seriously prejudice’ the national union interests (supplementary Rule 10 complaints)

A complaint against another PCS member(s), where the NEC believes there are grounds for considering that the member being complained about has ‘seriously prejudiced’ the Union's interests, is dealt with in accordance with Supplementary Rule 10 of the union national rules

Supplementary Rule 10 procedures should be used rarely and only for the most serious cases. For example, they should not be used to deal with arguments between members. The kinds of disciplinary offences which Rule 10 is designed to deal with include the following:

  1. A serious breach of one of the Union’s rules 
  2. Misappropriation of union funds 
  3. Bullying and harassment 
  4. A serious breach of the union’s equal opportunities policies

Any complaint against a member under this Rule shall be made in writing to the General Secretary (complaintsgensec@pcs.org.uk) who shall, having considered that it relates to a matter seriously prejudicial to the union’s interests, refer it to the NEC.  

If the general secretary considers that the complaint does not fulfil the Supplementary Rule 10 criteria, however relates to a matter that should be looked into, the member will be referred to the complaints procedure set out above.

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