17 March 2022

What's on? 21 March - 27 March

Our national ballot ends at noon on Monday (21) - so please vote. The coming week sees PCS offer a number of courses to members up and down the country and a range of activities taking place.

Vote yes in the national consultative ballot

We all need to play our part to win on pay, starting with a great turnout in the defence sector group in the national ballot.

Pay is a huge issue for our members in the defence sector, that’s why your union is campaigning for decent pay as part of the national PCS campaign.

If the government is not prepared to act to tackle the cost-of-living crisis for its own workers, then we must look at what action members are prepared to take. It is therefore crucial members vote in the online ballot which ends at noon on 21 March.

A big yes vote will send a powerful message to government ministers and individual employers and strengthen our position in talks with ministers.

We need members to:

Vote in the online ballot

42 DWP centres to close with thousands of jobs at risk

Having helped keep the UK running during the pandemic, DWP has rewarded our members by announcing large-scale office closures, which will almost certainly mean job losses.

The announcement has been devasting for PCS members, as thousands now face possible redundancy. These are the same people who helped keep the country running during the pandemic by processing benefit payments, including unprecedented numbers of Universal Credit claims. 

Are you a member in need of help or support?

At least 1,000 jobs are at risk over the closure of 13 processing sites, with more job losses feared over the closure and relocation of a further 29 sites. Closures are scheduled to happen by June 2023.

Read the full list on our stop the office closures and job losses campaign page.

Vote YES for real flexibility at work

Today PCS has launched an industrial action ballot on Ofsted’s decision to impose a 60% return to offices.

It is important that all members in the ballot use their vote to show Ofsted how illogical and unfair this policy is. It is unparalleled in other parts of the civil service and we are already seeing the negative impact the policy is having.

You can read more information on why we are balloting members and an update on negotiations to date.

What members should do now:

  1. When your ballot paper arrives, vote YES/YES and return it by post straight away.
  2. Apply for an exception via the panel. If you are turned away or your exception is rejected, PCS will support you in submitting a grievance. Please contact your local reps via pcs@ofsted.gov.uk
  3. Speak to your colleagues and other union members about the ballot, make sure they vote too!
  4. If you do not receive a ballot paper, request a replacement by Tuesday 22 March, by emailing balloting@pcs.org.uk with the subject ‘OfSTED Replacement Ballot Request’, stating your name, membership number and postal address.

Strike action called at British Council

Following a decisive statutory ballot result, PCS wrote to Scott McDonald, CEO of the British Council, to request an urgent meeting. Unfortunately, he declined to meet with PCS directly, instead delegating the meeting to HR officials. Both he and Stevie Spring, the chair of the board of trustees, have refused to meet with PCS, despite the seriousness of the dispute and the strong views from British Council workers.

Members will strike on 24 and 25 March, with ongoing short of strike action in the form withdrawal of goodwill starting from the same date.

There will be picket lines at the UK based offices in Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and London. Members based overseas, from Bogota to Bhagdad, will be participating in the industrial action.

Work for the British Council but not a PCS member? Join online today. 

Menopause in the Workplace - North West region

21 March - 28 March: 10am - 12:30pm

This short course for reps and members has been designed to create greater awareness of the menopause as a workplace issue. It looks at the symptoms women can experience, and helps reps consider various workplace factors that may negatively impact on workers experiencing the menopause, including practices that may put the health and safety of menopausal women at risk and/or may be considered discrimination against workers experiencing the menopause.

Racism and Intolerance: Changing Attitudes in the Workplace - Eastern, London and the South East, South West

22 March - 29 March: 9:30am - 12:30pm

There has been a disturbing resurgence – often under the false guise of ‘free speech’ – of overt racism, homophobia, misogyny and other hate. And sadly, some workplaces are not free from the trend of scapegoating the most vulnerable in society. Trade Unions have a central role to play in defending our communities, and in campaigning for fairness and equality. This one day workshop utilises materials developed by the TUC, and anti-racism organisations to; help build your confidence in challenging far-right ideas; help you tackle difficult conversations; and give you practical campaigning tips.

Green Reps and Climate Justice - London and the South East

22 March - 29 March: 1:30pm - 4:30pm

To help PCS green reps begin to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to carry out their role effectively. After this course you will; Be able to explain why climate change and the environment is a trade union issue; Understand the role of the green rep and how she/he fits into the PCS branch; Develop knowledge of workplace environmental issues; Be confident about raising and bargaining on green issues with the employer; Be confident in engaging colleagues on green issues including how this fits with wider bargaining and campaigning priorities; Be confident about finding other information

Organising and Industrial Relations

23 March - 6 April: 10am - 4pm

The ability of the union to win on industrial relations issues that matter to members is dependent on our strength in the workplace. That strength is best gauged by how “organised” the union is locally.

Organising is not just about how many members we have; How many members are actively involved in the union? Are reps and advocates trained and confident in all relevant aspects of their industrial actions duties? Do we know which parts of our branch are strong or weak? Do we know which issues matter most for members? How do we get our union messages across, and consult members on collective negotiations? Are our union structures adequately reflecting the developing needs of the workforce we represent? How do we overcome objections and obstacles to getting organised?

Advocates 1 - Eastern, London and the South East

24 March: 12pm - 1pm

The key to a stronger PCS is greater participation by members in the day-to-day running of the union at the local level. If you are willing to help out a little come along to this session to talk about how you can play a role in your union as a workplace advocate.

Welcome to PCS - Eastern, London and the South East

25 March: 10am - 4pm

This course is aimed at members who are new to the union and interested in getting involved in union activity. This introductory short course will give a flavour of what trade unions do, the role of trade unions in society and what it means to be an active member of PCS. The course is open to any member of PCS

Mental Health in the Workplace - South West, Eastern and London and South East

25 March - 1 April: 10am - 12:30pm

Stress, depression or anxiety are now the greatest cause of work absence in the UK. In January 2018 a ministerial response revealed in parliament that 26% of all sickness absence in the civil service was due to mental health conditions. Our training can give you the knowledge and confidence to help members to challenge where policies may be being breached or employers are unaware of employment rights, and to campaign for good mental health in the workplace.

Register with PCS Digital to book yourself on to an upcoming course

PCS courses and events are now being listed on PCS Digital. To be able to view and reserve spaces for upcoming events you'll need to log in to PCS Digital. If you have not yet registered for PCS Digital, please do so here.

Get in touch

Check out our events pagePCS Digital, or contact your local rep or regional office to find out what’s going on this week and in the coming weeks.

Let us know what your group or branch is planning so we can publicise it in our weekly round-up. Email web@pcs.org.uk

Stay informed by updating your details securely online by registering for PCS Digital