Mark Serwotka: ‘We’re building a strong, effective union based on grassroots power’

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka says that amid political chaos that impacts on our members, we must continue our work of building a strong union that can win on national and local issues.

The prospect of Boris Johnson becoming the next prime minister fills me with anger. Anger that a small number of Conservative party members can select a PM who will undoubtedly inflict great damage on our public services and deepen the crisis over Brexit.

We need a general election to end the misery of austerity and install a progressive Labour government that will end the destructive cuts programme that our members suffer from.

But we can’t wait for that. We are continuing the work of building a strong union that will be capable of winning on national as well as local issues against hostile employers.

PCS reps in the civil service and related areas deserve huge praise for the organising work done on the pay ballot. Overwhelming votes in favour of strike action and action short of strike were achieved, although the ballot turnout fell just short of the statutory 50% threshold.

Disappointing though that was, if we look at the analysis of the ballot figures there are lots of reasons to be proud of our efforts. In 22 employers we beat the threshold and in many others we were a fraction short. In some places we achieved more than 70% turnout.

So the threshold is attainable in a future ballot if we renew our focus on workplace organising at all levels.

The initial analysis of the ballot data supports the continuation of the current strategy: building workplace and branch organisation, particularly in large workplaces; finding and developing new activists; and organising around the most important local and national industrial issues.   

Face-to-face discussion is the proven way of increasing turnout and involvement in the workplace. So we want every activist to make special efforts to talk to members and ask them to become more involved in the union. Your branch secretary will receive the ballot figures for your branch, which can be used to plan organising work.

And we need to make special efforts to include younger members, women, BME, LGBT+ and disabled members: more involvement from under-represented groups and greater diversity amongst our reps will strengthen the union for everyone.

I was disappointed by the ballot result, but I am not downhearted. We are building a strong, effective union based on grassroots power that will fight Boris Johnson and anyone else who attacks our members.

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