1 June 2022

Ballot-ready branches: 5 things activists can do now

As we head for a national ballot, every single PCS member needs to know that it’s happening, why we are asking them to take part, and how they can vote. Click here for 5 simple steps you can take now to make a massive difference to this campaign.

As we head for a national industrial action ballot in the autumn, every single PCS member needs to know that it’s happening, why we are asking them to take part, and how they can vote.

We’re in the eye of a ‘perfect storm’ – another derisory pay offer, the civil service pensions robbery, attacks on redundancy terms, and massive job cuts plans, amid a cost-of-living crisis that the government could choose to do much more to alleviate. We must build on this momentum over the summer.

Together we need to take focused action to ensure every PCS branch is organised and engaged. We know we can beat the required 50% turnout threshold – but to achieve it we have to reach the 55% of members who did not vote in our recent consultative ballot.

This can only happen via you, our network of activists.

Read on for 5 simple steps you can take now to make a massive difference to this campaign, and to win for our members.


Talk to all your members about the campaign, and ask every one to check and update their ballot address.

As it will be a postal ballot, this is absolutely vital. Cleaning up our branch lists and databases is now the number one priority.

This is particularly important for our harder-to-reach members – we currently have no personal email address/phone number for around one quarter of the membership. With some focused admin work, activists can fix this before the ballot, which we expect to hold in September.

Use the organising hub on PCS Digital to identify those members for whom we hold no personal contact details. Contact them via their work email, Teams, or other work systems; or use other means such as face-to-face or social media.

Face-to-face is ideal, where possible, because you can also use that time to talk to your members about the campaign, explain why it’s so important to engage, and to vote, and prompt them to look out for PCS messages about the campaign. (Also see No.4)

Don’t struggle – ask for help!
If needed, PCS staff can help you with tips for contacting harder-to-reach members. If you’re having issues with speaking to members, are lacking activist coverage in certain areas, or experiencing other barriers to getting organised, additional support and resources can be provided.

Contact your Group or branch organiser first. Or email organising@pcs.org.uk

At strike school you’ll learn more about: using PCS digital tools for your organising work (also see No.5); having conversations with members; and contacting the harder-to-reach members. You will discuss how some branches exceeded the 50% turnout threshold in our consultative ballot – and turn it into action in your area.

The schools are starting in June, with follow-up sessions ahead of the ballot launch. They are available to all members who are active, or would like to be. The format will be a combination of in-person, Zoom and short ‘bite-sized’ sessions.

Course topics include:

  • Clean data – how accuracy of membership records affects ballot outcomes and what branches need to do
  • Digital tools – getting your records straight using the organising hub
  • Communications – targeting those harder-to-reach members, overcoming objections, and ensuring clarity of message
  • Planning – build now for a brilliant turnout; set up your ballot sub-committee and plan for success

As a minimum, we need organisers to attend and then share the information and/or someone from each branch who can set up and co-ordinate a ‘ballot ready’ sub-committee of their BEC.

Sign up to your region or nation’s strike school here.

Do all you can to mobilise members to go to the TUC rally – ‘We Demand Better’ – in London on 18 June.

It’s time for a mass fight-back. Our goal is that several thousand of our members will join hundreds of thousands of other workers to demand that the government takes action over the cost-of-living crisis, and to oppose the massive civil service job cuts.


We need to have a conversation with every member during June, July and August, to make sure they are on board.

The first priority is targeting the members who were less engaged in the consultative ballot. The organising hub will contain information of members who told us they had voted during that ballot, so will be able to concentrate on those who didn’t.

Every chance you get, bring it up in conversation – ideally in face-to-face chats, as well as in meetings, and other communications. When conversations have happened, it should be noted on the organising hub (see No.6).

Speaking to every member sounds ambitious. But it’s achievable over 8–10 weeks if those conversations are spread out among all our activists, including advocates.

Branches should meet and review their membership and activist lists and then split these into achievable sub-lists – each rep and advocate will take responsibility for a list. Set a target for each person as to how many conversations they need to have each week, then hold weekly/fortnightly check-ins to track progress.

Use prompts for your conversations
Activists can approach members and ask them whether they have received the email that PCS is sending out about the ballot strategy, and whether they have checked their ballot address. If the member says they did not receive/read the email then they can be provided with a leaflet (which PCS will send to all branches) and you can talk to them about it.

Examples of talking points will be provided to activists, covering issues such as whether the cost-of living crisis has affected the member and their family, whether they are aware of the union’s strategy, and reminding them of the upcoming ballot and the need to check their ballot address.

Evidence from our consultative ballot results showed that the more a branch engaged with the PCS Digital organising hub and systematically recorded responses on it, the more likely they were to breach the 50% turnout threshold.

If you haven’t yet registered with PCS Digital, or you’ve registered but are not using it, now is the time to add this tool to your armoury.

We have made adjustments to the organising hub, which we are launching as part of the strike schools in June.

Want to upskill?
Go to a PCS strike school to learn about digital organising tools and more (see No.2).

And/or organise some PCS Digital training for your branch, by registering for it via PCS Digital.

Any questions?
Contact your group or branch organiser or email organising@pcs.org.uk