The coronavirus crisis has enormous implications for the way in which members and representatives like you undertake their roles and conduct their daily lives.
Our national executive committee (NEC) met via teleconference last week and agreed a range of measures to help us cope with the changed environment in which we are now working.
The NEC agreed that all meetings which could increase the risk of infection should be cancelled, postponed or take place using teleconference or skype facilities.
The NEC also agreed that it would not be possible to go ahead with our conferences in May, the expected time of peak infection rates. The NEC will keep under review how we will facilitate democratic decision making during this period and plans to meet regularly.
New ways to engage
We will develop new ways to campaign and organise, while social distancing is in place. Digital technology may enable us to develop new ways to organise, communicate and support reps and members.
We are urgently looking at a number of initiatives, including:
- Creating online communities of reps
- Creating new communication channels with large groups of reps and activists
- Increasing the coverage, quality and detail of direct digital communications and social media
- Using phone-banking to talk direct to members
- Surveying members in relation to coronavirus.
Our national campaign demands on civil service pay, redundancy and pensions are even more valid in the current situation. The NEC agreed that we must increase pressure for meaningful central pay bargaining at a time when management and unions need to be focused on protecting staff and the public. We are also demanding that for the period of the crisis all proposed office closures and redundancies are halted.
The crisis has revealed that the austerity policies of the past decade, which have cut public services, in particular the NHS, promoted outsourcing, reduced benefits, undermined employment protection and attacked union rights, have left our society fundamentally unprepared for a health emergency such as this.
The trade union movement has a key role to play in the current crisis. We will work through the TUC for a united campaign to demand the government protects our members and communities.
As the crisis worsens and as the NHS becomes strained and possibly overwhelmed there is a very real danger that scapegoating will become an issue. They have already been racist attacks on Chinese and Italian people. We are committed to join with others to fight such scapegoating.
While we are in difficult, troubling times we are determined that PCS will continue to protect all our members.
It is a very important time to be a union member and together we are stronger. Ask your colleagues to join PCS online.
If you have questions about the impact of coronavirus on you, visit your PCS employer group page on this website in the first instance. This should be updated regularly with advice and information about the current situation.