30 November 2021

Cost-of-living crisis: steps to get ballot-ready

All of the issues causing the cost-of-living crisis are linked, and they are hurting everyone. We have the power to bring about change – here are some steps you can take now.

Fran Heathcote (PCS National President) highlights some steps you can take.

A perfect storm of factors has caused the current cost-of-living crisis. That crisis, of the government’s making, is the basis of our national campaign to win a better standard of living for our members.

It can feel overwhelming to think about tackling everything at once – frozen and devalued pay, the pensions robbery, National Insurance rises, climbing inflation, rocketing prices and the cut to Universal Credit. But these are everyday realities that couldn’t be more relevant to our hard-working members. 

It boils down to a simple message: all of these issues are linked, and they are hurting everyone; we have the power to bring about change by acting together to say ‘enough is enough’.

In the coming weeks, as activists we need to focus on a few vital tasks (see below for three simple steps you can take now).

  • Building a great network of people who can talk to as many members and non-members as possible and get them engaged in the campaign. Increasing our army of PCS Advocates is more important than ever.
  • Spreading the message far and wide about the injustice of the civil service pensions robbery.
  • Making sure our branches are ready for a potential ballot for industrial action, so we can get the 50% turnout we need to legally strike. Vital to this is ensuring group and branch organising plans are in good shape for the tasks ahead.

Pensions robbery unifies members 

Every part of the cost-of-living crisis hits members in their pockets in various ways.

For many, the two main issues are pay and pensions. While the negotiation of civil service pay remains ridiculously fragmented, the most unifying issue in our campaign is the robbery of members’ pensions. 

Yet so many of us over-complicate things when it comes to understanding pensions and are concerned about having to explain the issues to our colleagues. That’s why we held campaign briefings earlier in November are holding two special online pensions seminars for all PCS activists on 30 November and 2 December. 

We all need to gain the confidence to discuss this fundamental issue and break it down to the simple points we must get across. You don’t have to become a pensions expert to understand this injustice, and you don’t need to have all the answers. Please go along to one of the seminars, ask questions, raise issues, build your knowledge and help shape this crucial part of the PCS national campaign. 

It’s not enough anymore to simply be angry.  

We must now do everything we can to ensure every PCS branch is in a position to beat the 50% turnout threshold in an industrial action ballot.

Three simple steps you can take now:

  1. Sign up online to one of the pensions seminars. They’re on Tues 30 November (12:30-14:00) and Thurs 2 December (18:00–19:30).
  2. Share the pensions loss calculator (which includes an e-action) with as many members and non-members as possible.
  3. Make a plan to ensure you can easily communicate with all your branch members. Check your membership lists, and urge members to update their details on PCS Digital, including a personal email address. Think about setting up groups on WhatsApp and social media, and/or starting a new newsletter. 

National Activists’ Forum

Engaging members and bringing on new activists is key to succeeding in any of our campaigns. Early in the new year, we will also be trialling the idea of a new National Activists’ Forum, as another way to get more people involved, especially from under-represented groups. Look out for news and encourage new people to take part.

Thank you for all your hard work. If you have any questions or ideas, get in touch. Email organising@pcs.org.uk.