23 November 2021

Why we’ve voted yes in PCS British Council ballot

“Management won’t listen unless we are prepared to act,” said one of our British Council members, explaining why they have voted yes in our consultative ballot over job losses and cuts at the organisation.

The organisation is planning to close some overseas offices and reduce staffing numbers by 2,000 globally. Our electronic consultative ballot opened on 10 November and closes at noon on Friday (26).

PCS has been campaigning against the cuts and demanding:

  • No forced redundancies
  • A fair, open and transparent approach and process for transformation
  • No privatisation/outsourcing of jobs.

Members have been in touch to tell us why they have voted yes. Names have been changed.

For Andrew he has had enough of 11 years of real-terms pay cuts and the fourth mass redundancy programme in that time.

I voted yes in the ballot because people believe that public sector workers sacrifice higher salaries in exchange for job security. At the British Council, we have neither,” he said.

For Katherine it’s about the employer’s hypocrisy. She said: “I’ve voted for the strike in the consultative ballot because it seems over the past year we’ve had a lot of talk about ‘our values.’ Yet when it comes to the British Council demonstrating them with their own employees they seem to be thrown out of the window.”

Management mistakes

Susannah believes employees are paying the price for the mistakes of senior management.

“I’ve only been at the British Council for a few years – but before the pandemic there was talk that we needed to move to digital and streamline our processes and nothing happened,” she said. “Then, we lost money with the closures of operations overseas, but digital teaching and exams wasn’t available when we needed it. This is a fault of senior management, not the employees but we are the ones paying the price.

“Also, when we hear on one hand that we are on pay and conditions as civil servants, and on the hand don’t get the civil service pay rise, and it seems are paid less than people in similar posts, I think we have to say ‘enough’.”

While the outcome of the ballot is not a legal mandate for strike action, the results will be used to strengthen our hand in negotiations. It could lead to a statutory postal ballot which would enable strike action later.