26 April 2021

Democracy, campaigning and industrial action - April in PCS

At a busy time, Fran's latest blog is a diary of important events during April, with opportunities for members to get involved in various ballots that are taking place. 

Dispute in DVLA

Right at the beginning of April, we were still in meetings with DVLA management to see if we could make enough progress not to go ahead with strike action but, although a small amount of progress was made, it was certainly not enough, and from 6 to 9 April, I was proud to support our members at DVLA Swansea in delivering 4 days of successful action.

I chaired two great, upbeat rallies on the first and last of the four days of action, alongside a range of speakers including MPs John McDonnell, Stephen Kinnock, Tonia Antoniazi, Christina Rees, Carolyn Harris, Geraint Davies, Nia Griffith and Graham Morris; Frances O’Grady of the TUC, Shav Taj from Wales TUC alongside a range of branch speakers.

Branch chair Sarah Evans and general secretary Mark Serwotka addressed both events, messages of support flooded in and were read out and the whole atmosphere at both rallies demonstrated the solidarity and widespread support these strikers have.

Astonishingly, the promised talks with DVLA management didn’t take place the following week 'due to the death of Prince Phillip'. They have resumed now, but following a well-attended members' meeting on 19 April, we have now served notice of four further days of action from 4 to 7 May unless progress can be made.

People Before Profit

During that week, I also spoke at a People Before Profit event; Mark Serwotka spoke at one last week. We are both working hard to build support for our campaign activity across the union movement, coordinating efforts wherever possible.

Annual Delegate Conference

PCS policy is set by our conference at every level and we are all busy making plans for both national conference in June and the various group conferences before it. Chairing events virtually is never going to be quite like sitting in the conference hall in Brighton, and to this end, I chaired a meeting of group presidents to get us all 'geared up' for what is to come, whilst various standing orders committees work hard to put in place their agendas.

Scottish TUC

19 to 21 April was also Scottish TUC (virtual conference), where I led our delegation to speak and vote on a range of motions. Alongside motions such as Pay and Organising the People's Recovery, we debated the right to self-determination in Scotland and I was proud to move our own emergency motion about the dispute in DVLA Swansea.

We held a fringe meeting on the Monday night entitled A Worker’s Vision for Scotland’s Future where an interesting debate took place. It was a great few days for PCS and our delegation all did us proud.

International Workers' Memorial Day

As always, 28 April marks the day when we 'Remember those who have died, and fight for the living'. An opportunity to pay tribute to those that have lost their lives at work and celebrate the campaigns taking place across our movement. The theme this year is “Health & Safety is a fundamental right at work”, which is obviously incredibly fitting right now.

PCS will be hosting an event at 6pm on the 28th where deputy president/DWP president, Martin Cavanagh will be the keynote national speaker for PCS.

DWP group executive committee launches consultative ballot  

I am really pleased that it is Martin addressing the event on Wednesday, taking place as it does the week before the DWP group enters into a consultative members' ballot all about safety. This ballot will be launched on 5 May and will consult DWP members in Jobcentre buildings on their views on DWP's decision to bring workers back into the workplace, and return to face to face interview work, in PCS's view, before it is safe to do so.

PCS is opposed to this rushed extended opening as we do not believe that this work can be done safely due to covid. If you work in the DWP, and should be included in the ballot, please ensure that your personal contact details are up to date so that we can get your views.

PCS elections start now – have your say

As a democratic trade union, all of our lay reps are elected annually. The elections for the national executive committee (NEC) are postal only and began on 22 April; elections begin for group executive committees on 29 April, electronically for those that we hold an email address for.

Look out for both ballots. Please have your say about who runs your union, and use your vote wisely. NEC elections close on 13 May and in groups on 18 May.

As you can tell, there is a lot happening right now. Please play your part in PCS, get involved and tell us what you think.

Take care and stay safe