Pay campaign: planning to win

A plan to get PCS workplaces ready in case we need to ballot members for potential industrial action over pay is getting under way.

Maximum involvement in building on the mandate secured in our successful consultative ballot – the highest vote in favour of strike action of any national ballot in PCS’s history – is the next crucial step in our campaign to break the pay cap and win decent pay rises for all. See below for details of the action plan.

The yes vote was unprecedented but the turnout, at 48.8%, fell just short of the 50% threshold unions now have to meet in statutory strike ballots. Moreover, many members voted online in our consultative ballot, which would not be an option in a statutory ballot.

PCS has received a detailed breakdown of the vote by group, employer, branch and workplace, and has analysed the data to devise organising strategies for our ‘ballot-readiness’ plan. Groups and branches will be contacted about the details for their own areas, and given extra support where necessary.

Support the demand for 5%
Meanwhile a national pay claim has been lodged, calling for a fully-funded pay rise of 5% or £1,200 – whichever is greater – a Living Wage of £10 per hour, and national bargaining to establish pay equality and a common pay and grading structure.

While we seek to enter into meaningful pay negotiations with the UK’s governments, the whole union must prepare for a scenario in which we may need to move to a statutory ballot.

The situation has moved at a different pace in Scotland, where civil service pay is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Last year PCS negotiated an early pay settlement date of April 2018. The government’s pay remit guidance for 2018-19 lifts the 1% pay cap, guarantees the Scottish Living Wage and a minimum of 3% increase for those earning under £30,000. However it’s uncertain how employers intend to fund pay.  PCS is claiming a minimum 6% pay increase in Scotland.

What are branches being asked to do?
Branches should focus on the following union-building work over the next 3-4 months, with the support of full-time PCS staff:

  • Mapping the entire workforce;
  • Ensuring membership data is up to date, including accuracy of member location;
  • Ensuring that distribution networks are up to date and functioning;
  • Organising all-member meetings;
  • Talking to members one-to-one;
  • Recruiting new members and activists.

Support will include training on recruiting new members, talking to non-members, holding member meetings, identifying new activists and mapping.

These efforts will not only strengthen the campaign but will equip us for our 2018-2020 union-building work towards a stronger, more active and participative union with an increased membership of at least 200,000.

What next?

  • Branches are urged to link up with local unions and campaign groups for the TUC’s Heart Unions week, on 12-18 February, which has public sector pay as one of its main themes. PCS materials will be made available.
  • Following our latest successful payday protest in January, the next will be held on Wednesday 28 February – plan your protests now and get members involved.
  • A special Pay Forum is being held at the end of February to receive reports on the response to the national claim, on the situation in other public sector areas, and to consult groups on pay and related matters.
  • A PCS pay rally will take place at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday 6 March.  Further briefings will be issued but branches are asked to save the date and make plans to send delegations.  The pay rally will be preceded by a lobby of MPs, by members in their constituencies, during the weekend of 3/4 March.

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