Working with other PCS branches as part of a town network
A town network can bring PCS reps together who may work for different employers but work in the same vicinity. This could be the same building, the same town or a nearby town.
The benefits of a town network are:
- that it makes members less isolated providing solidarity and support allows reps to share experiences and resolve problems together
- Share contacts in council, trades councils and community organisations
- larger pool of resources
- co-ordinate PCS pickets and PCS contingents at demos.
Working with trade unions and trades councils (TUCs)
The benefit of working with other unions is to build solidarity and a broad common platform against the cuts in jobs and services.
Some PCS reps have experience of working with other unions in the civil service or unions like Unite and GMB who may represent grades in prisons and MoD.
This could be in negotiations, campaigning, financial support in a dispute, or anti-racist/anti-fascist work.
Difficulties can sometimes arise with some personalities and political affiliations (such as where unions maybe affiliated to the Labour party) so it’s important to focus on the broad objectives of a campaign.
Cross union campaigns can be run via the local trade’s council, which are the official local “arm” of the TUC. Branches can affiliate to a trade’s council via a motion at their AGM.
Joint activities could include:
- rally, demonstration or march
- stall in town centre
- solidarity messages / visiting picket lines
- publicise issues / disputes to your members about local disputes
- lobbying of councillors, MP surgeries.
PCS branches should raise industrial issues and our campaigns within the trades’ council in order to gain wider publicity and support.
Regional TUCs also offer a platform to engage with the wider trade union movement and reps can be elected to a number of committees in each region (for instance, public services, equalities or young members committees). PCS branches are encouraged to attend PCS Regional AGM’s ; these meetings nominate PCS delegations for regional TUC’s Some TUC regions have established a “Public Service alliance” (PSA), where PCS plays an active role.
Working with community and voluntary sector organisations
You may find it helpful to build alliances with other community organisations against cuts in services. This can help build a wider against the cuts and a wider audience for the PCS alternative to austerity.
PCS members may find a common cause with those voluntary sector organisations who support more vulnerable people. DWP and HMRC clients (claimants) are directly affected by cuts, so links could also be made with representative organisations.
PCS has worked with a number of campaigning organisations such as:
- Unite against Fascism (UAF)
- Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC)
- Justice Alliance.
Examples of how community campaigns have driven a desired result and tips on how to accomplish them
There is a unique “personal touch” to grassroots community campaigning; it makes the “human touch” connections that can attract people who wouldn't ordinarily be drawn to campaigning and activism. Here are some tips on getting wider support for your cause
Community campaigning is all about what people can see down their street and in their local environment. It's their hospital that's having its A&E shut down; their library or nursery that is facing closure; their neighbours and friends who are affected by cutbacks. That familiarity makes it mean more by being more visible and tangible.
The power of disparate groups, who might not ordinarily work together in a common cause, can be harnessed through appealing to that kind of village view. Vital community issues can cut right across party lines and can influence MPs, MEPs, mayors and councillors into lending their support. When a community pulls together it can be a powerful force for change and influence which cannot be ignored.
Dos and don'ts
DO spread the word. Your local newspaper can be a big help, either by reporting your story, using your press release or by publishing your letter on its letters page.
DO speak to local politicians. Your MP, or parliamentary candidates for the opposition parties, may offer some support to your campaign, and it is worth contacting local councillors and officials for their support too.
DO join up with other campaigning organisations, trade unions, anti-cuts groups and helpful activists. You will have some areas of common interest and purpose where you can offer help and support to each other.
DO make the most of social media. Start up a page on Facebook and create a Twitter account for your campaign. Make connections with other like-minded campaigners and groups. If you've got time to create a blog, it will be an invaluable asset for your campaign, providing a forum for debate and a place for people to go to in order to get information.
DO include members in your workplace and branch in your campaigning activity – they are part of the local community. Forging links between the union locally and wider community campaigns gives members a sense of the wider purpose of the trade union movement, and will encourage more to get ‘active’ in PCS.
DON’T rule anyone out from being a supporter. Lifelong Conservative party supporters can be outraged at the closure of their local library, for example. Bear that kind of thing in mind when you're reaching out.
DON’T give up. There are going to be setbacks along the way and times when it might look like all is lost, but resilience and perseverance are extremely important qualities for any activist to have.
DON’T forget your goals. Always remember what you're fighting for, and "what a win would look like". Make sure you don't lose sight of the reasons you got into community campaigning in the first place.
DON’T Be too aggressive. Community campaigning is about winning new friends and teasing the activist side out of ordinary people. You run the risk of switching off these valuable assets to your campaign if you're too militant in your language or your actions.