PCS puts a lot of focus on recruiting new members, including the thousands of civil service apprentices being taken on, and getting more people involved in the union’s activities.
Activate talked to some of the members on the union’s new delegates programme at PCS annual conference in Brighton, about their union work and how they try to get others involved.
ABE ALLEN, 16, DCLG
“My sister is in PCS and she told me about it. I came straight to DCLG from school and I didn’t know about trade unions or how they could help me. I thought it would actually be quite nice to get involved, rather than just see it as some kind of insurance policy.
“I went to chat to the branch secretary about it and she told me about being a union advocate. I’ve not been able to get as involved as I could be because I’m still on probation but once I finish I’ll be able to get more involved and try to become a rep. I can definitely see myself helping people out and helping out the union.
“I speak to colleagues about the union on an apprenticeship group chat on Facebook. I tell them that if anything happens on their contract, PCS could fight for that.”
JULIA MCMURRAY, 28, HMRC
“My dad was a trade unionist for 35 years. Then Scott Clark, our branch organiser, made me realise I could do it. He’s one of the hardest working reps I know. He convinced me to actually take the next step and become a rep.
“Me and another rep decided to do a mental health workshop at work. I like to think it’s encouraging other people and showing them the work that’s going on. We are trying to get members to become more active.”
BARRINGTON TUCKER, 47, LAND REGISTRY
“I’ve been in the union for 16 years and a health and safety rep for the last year.
“I got involved because I saw one of my colleagues trip over the carpet and fall right in front of me, breaking her wrist. When I saw them doing the report I thought ‘why didn’t they speak to me?’ They weren’t doing it right so I thought maybe I should become a health and safety rep.
“We’ve done a lot of hard work in our branch with the new apprentices. The employer wanted to pay them 50% of the rate for the job, and we managed to get it up to 85% of the AO grade. We also got an apprentice reinstated after a PMR-related issue.
“Younger people often have different issues. Once they started to rear up, like with PMR or attendance, they were signing up. We’ve had three waves of apprentices (totalling 60 people) and 93% are members.
“Our average age is 48 – we need those young people. We sell it to them as ‘this is what we’ve done for you’.”
EMMA HUGHES, 35, HMRC
“I’ve been a rep for about three years, and am assistant branch organiser. Tracy Boyce, one of our GEC members, got me involved – she’s very persuasive. She’s quite an inspiration because she’s a mum and she works like me. You think you won’t have time, but then you see another woman doing it.
“I manage to get all of my team to come to all the union meetings. I have been sorting out a buffet – it’s a good incentive for members to give up their lunchtime. I love the union and being part of it and trying to help. In one case I had that was quite difficult, the member was really appreciative.”