24 May 2022

PCS agrees to launch industrial action ballot on pay in the autumn

PCS will immediately begin working towards holding a national statutory ballot on industrial action this autumn over members’ pay, pensions and redundancy terms in the UK civil service and related public sector areas.  

The decision made by conference delegates comes as the union rejects yet another “derisory” civil service pay remit, on top of years of plummeting pay, and in the face of the spiralling cost-of-living crisis.

The form and scope of the ballot – due to begin in September – will take account of the results of the union’s recent consultative ballot on pay, in which 97% of members were in support of the national claim and 81% were willing to take industrial action if negotiations do not deliver a fair deal. The turnout was 45%.

In a discussion on the national campaign, delegates debated alternative motions which agreed on calling for a ballot, with different timings and tactics. The NEC’s motion (A204), for a ballot in September, was overwhelmingly carried.

The NEC motion noted that members’ difficulties are further compounded by the ongoing pensions robbery. The government has also signalled its intention to launch a fresh assault on the terms of the civil service compensation scheme (CSCS); just as it has also said it wants to cut 91,000 civil service jobs.

DWP Wigan Area’s motion (A206) called for an earlier strike ballot, on 1 July, and for the ballot to be counted separately in different areas (disaggregated) so that those groups that exceed the 50% threshold could take strike action.  

Branch member Dave said their motion would “force the pace” because the employer was not going to move on pay. Citing ‘partygate’ and other factors, fellow supporter Dave, from Land Registry, said: “The timing is absolutely right to be going for it.”

But those supporting the NEC motion said time was needed to build and organise for the ballot, especially in those areas which had not achieved the necessary turnout in the consultative ballot. Rob from DWP Derbyshire cautioned against jeopardising a win. John from Registers Scotland branch said going to ballot in July could be a “rush to failure”.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We don’t defeat Boris Johnson by having a ballot, we beat Boris Johnson by winning a ballot, and delivering the strikes that can defeat this government.”

Mark said the union would be talking to all branches and groups for their views. The areas to be included in the ballot will be identified, based on an analysis of the consultative ballot.

The motion resolved to “mobilise and motivate our activists, increase their confidence to speak to members and intensify efforts to win over the 55% that didn’t vote”. Members’ support will be built over the summer using meetings, workplace face-to-face activity, surveys and all possible forms of communication.