8 September 2021

National public sector campaign: focus on pensions and equal pay

Discussions on the next steps in our national campaign have been looking at members’ main priorities as we plan ahead for the coming months.

National Executive Committee discussions on the next steps in our national public sector campaign have been looking at members’ main priorities as we look ahead to the coming months.

It is clear that there is a high degree of interest amongst members in the pensions issue and the McCloud judgement. For most members a 2% reduction in pensions payments would equate to an average gain of £1,000 per year, as well as improvements to pensions benefits that they are owed. The pensions issue and the injustice that surrounds it provides a key opportunity to agitate and educate around this issue.

The NEC has agreed that pensions briefings are needed to give reps confidence in speaking to members on the issue, and materials are being prepared to help our activists campaign on the issue in their workplaces (including the links below to content on PCS Digital).

Pensions awareness week:

All PCS reps, advocates and activists are asked to look out for upcoming regional and national briefings on pay and pensions, which will help inform the next steps for your branches and workplaces. Please take part and encourage as many members and fellow activists to get involved.

Organising on pay
Amid the pandemic, PCS groups have been working to communicate with branches over the national pay claim. They have encouraged branches to, in turn, talk to members about it and hold meetings to explain the content of the pay claim and the power members have in impacting on the outcome of negotiations.

Groups will now be asked to use their annual pay cycle to design new organising plans – with the help of an upcoming new pay organising toolkit – that involves: scene-setting and communication with members; activities around pay days, petitions and surveys; balloting on pay offers; reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of their strategies; and building for next year.

Equal pay cases
PCS will be launching claims for sectoral pay discrimination, with the potential to generate claims from both within and across department comparators. The union is working on building a digital portal to gather and collate data from members wishing to log claims, which is expected to take shape in the autumn.

TUC and other unions
The union is also continuing to campaign alongside the TUC and other unions, including:

TUC key workers pay lobbying: The TUC in England are repeating the key workers’ pay campaign lobbying they began in February. This targets Tory MPs in each TUC region and identifies local key workers to meet the MP in a ‘reverse town hall’ event. The MP is invited to listen to the testimonies of 4–6 key workers in their constituency about their pay and why the pay freeze needs to end, then invited to respond. Where they refuse to attend an ‘empty chair’ process takes place and the local media is informed.

PCS regional secretaries are talking to PCS reps prepared to take part in the run up to the decision on 2022 pay policy by the UK government.

Campaigning around TUC congress: Mark Serwotka and Fran Heathcote spoke at a People’s Assembly online rally when congress opened on 12 September. PCS also held a congress fringe meeting on pensions and Mark proposed a motion condemning the UK government’s continued public sector pay restraint policy and its refusal to address public sector pension deficiencies.

Protest at Tory party conference: This year sees the return of demonstrations outside the Tory party conference. It will be held in Manchester on Sunday 3 October and the PCS Samba Band has been asked to perform.