25 May 2022

We will face this out-of-touch government together, says PCS parliamentary group chair

Industrial action works, and inspires others to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’, said the chair of the PCS parliamentary group as he delivered the group’s annual report to conference the day after delegates agreed to ballot over pay and pensions.

Chris Stephens heads up a cross-party group of more than 100 MPs who lobby ministers and raise awareness within parliament on issues affecting PCS members. He said that the government had little to offer workers to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.

“The state is under attack from this government. We will not let them win. I want to record my thanks to every single civil servant, every PCS member, every PCS activist, for all their work over the last few years to keep these islands’ economic wheels turning,” he said.

He said the recent announcement to cut 91,000 civil servants was particularly “galling”. An early day motion he submitted to parliament, condemning the cuts, had the highest number of MPs’ signatures of any EDM, he said.

“We will take every parliamentary opportunity to raise this and other issues affecting PCS members,” he added.

Chris highlighted a number of the interventions MPs had made on members’ behalf, including issues around low pay and pensions over-payments, workloads, Covid-related health and safety, and office closures in the DWP, HMRC and Insolvency Service.

Support had also been given to those taking action, such as outsourced workers at the Royal Parks, and members in the DVSA and British Council. He paid tribute to those workers, such as in the DVLA, who had taken on the bosses who put workers’ health and safety at risk during the pandemic.

“Thank you for inspiring us all. Industrial action works. Industrial action inspires others to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’. And when it comes to the ill treatment of the civil service, I truly believe enough is enough,” he said.

He said that when he secured an urgent question in parliament in response to the DWP office closures plan, three Tory MPs objected.

“How dare I, as a parliamentarian, object to this government action, said they. But let me assure this conference, if the Tories believe for one moment that I should know my place, then they can think again,” he said, to applause from delegates.

He said PCS members have many comrades and friends in parliament “who will continue to fight your corner over pay, pensions, health and safety and living standards”.

“We face together an out-of-touch, arrogant government… and where they attack us, we will face them together and put together not just a political case, not just an economic case, but a moral case as to why we need well paid civil servants delivering world class public services.”