The National Executive Committee (NEC) and the DWP Group Executive Committee (GEC) have both confirmed that the recruitment of non union members is the union’s key priority.
The NEC has agreed to set a target of an increase in membership from 182,000 to 200,000 by 2020.
The DWP is the biggest Group in the union and every DWP branch will need to increase membership to help meet this national target.
This branch briefing sets out the background to the fall in membership in recent years and explains the plans agreed by the DWP GEC to work with Regions and Branches grow the DWP membership in 2018.
Government cuts and attacks
The cuts in staff suffered throughout the civil service as a result of austerity have been part of a political attack by the government to slash funding for public services and make workers’ pay for the crash. The end of check off in the civil service was a political attack on our union because PCS has led the fight against austerity. These attacks have led to a loss of PCS members.
The DWP has been particularly badly hit. Attached are figures that show the job cuts and the loss of members from October 2013 to October 2017.
10,000 jobs have been cut since 2013. Union Membership has gone down by 19,000. PCS membership in the DWP has been hit by both job cuts and by the end of check off. The work done by the GEC, regions and branches to get 87% of PCS members in the DWP to switch to direct debit was a brilliant achievement but it still meant that 13% of members did not switch to direct debit and a 13% loss of members on top of 10,000 jobs cut.
The attached figures show that these attacks have led to membership density in the DWP Group going down from 74% to 60%. Every region has suffered a similar drop in membership density. Scotland remains the region with by far the highest membership density but membership density in Scotland has gone down from 88% to 72%.
Near stability in 2017
After these attacks by the government union membership in the DWP started to stabilise in 2017. Attached are figures that show joiners and leavers branch by branch for the whole of 2017. DWP branches recruited an excellent 4190 new members in 2017 but the number of leavers was 4635. This meant a small overall loss of 445 members. This is the smallest drop in membership for 4 years. Because of the hard work done by the GEC, regions and branches the union has survived the Tories attacks and membership in the DWP has nearly stabilised.
Time to grow again
The Tories thought that ending check off would smash the union. They were wrong. Having suffered a drop in membership it is now time to grow again in DWP branches.
To play our part in the NEC target of growing the national union to 200,000 by 2020 the DWP Group needs to grow by 4% in 2018. That means –
A branch with 300 members at the end of 2017 needs to end 2018 with 312 members.
A branch with 500 members at the end of 2017 needs to end 2018 with 520 members.
A branch with 1000 members at the end of 2017 needs to end 2018 with 1040 members.
Attached are the end of 2017 membership figures for each DWP branch.
By adding 4% to these figures you can work out how many extra new members your branch needs to recruit on top of any leavers.
Make recruitment your branch priority
PCS is a campaigning union but we must grow our membership to make sure that we have the income and the strength in numbers to win campaigns. To help us win better pay, more staff, fairer appraisal and attendance management policies and a fair social security system we need to ask every non-member to the union.
Make sure that recruitment is at the top of the agenda at every branch committee meeting and that you prioritise asking every non-member to join the union.
GEC campaign plans
The GEC will lead, help and work with regions and branches. The GEC has agreed a recruitment campaign plan. The GEC will publish figures each month starting in February that will show recruitment progress for each branch.
The GEC organising committee will use that information to work with your regional organiser to identify branches were we can work together to maximise recruitment and target support from Full Time Officers like we did during the check off campaign. Look out for the first set of figures next week.