Fighting fund donations needed to bolster action

24 May 2017

The union’s fighting fund, which gives financial support to members taking industrial action, must be publicised more to encourage more members to donate, conference delegates have agreed.

PCS members fully endorsed the principle of a fighting fund, to back up those taking industrial action and to help plan strategically for future targeted action. The motion they passed also called for a new strategy to increase donations from members.

At a fringe meeting held on the issue, members heard that their colleagues had been helped to win their disputes because the union had been able to provide strike pay, often for sustained periods.

Supporting successful strike campaigns, such as those as the National Gallery or National Museum Wales (NMW), often required six-figure sums in order to support the members, general secretary Mark Serwotka told the meeting.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting people,” he said. “It’s as good an investment of our money as you could find,” he said.

But he added that PCS needed more people to sign up to the fund in order to build it up. In recent months the union had stepped up efforts to publicise how to make voluntary donations - asking members to pay £2 a month - but that more needed to be done, he said.

The meeting was addressed by PCS union rep and EHRC striker Eleanor Deeming, who said they’d been receiving 50% pay from the Fighting Fund during their series of strikes, which have been going on since October.

“We cannot overstate the importance of the solidarity and support shown to us. Without the Fighting Fund we would not have been able to continue, and escalate, this dispute. It’s absolutely vital,” she said.

Peter Hill of NMW said their branch aimed to sign up 100% of members to the Fighting Fund, because they had received so much from it when they needed it during their long strike.

Serwotka added that with more disputes likely, there was a debate to be had now on whether a voluntary fund was the best way to raise the money needed.

He said the issue would be debated further, but pointed out that a 50p levy on each member could raise £1m of ring-fenced money for the fund each year.

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