Disappointment, pride and determination
The NEC shared the real sense of disappointment that the turnout did not meet the 50% threshold which is required for a legal strike. But also had a great sense of pride at the magnificent effort of our members, reps and staff, to deliver the largest percentage vote for industrial action, and turnout in the union’s history. The NEC is determined that the government’s pay policy cannot, and will not go unchallenged.
PCS members still deserve a pay rise, and the campaign for pay justice will continue. The ballot result will be used to grow stronger, building our membership and organisation, and ensure that we can beat the 50% turnout threshold.
Watch and share Mark Serwotka's latest pay video
The next steps for 2018 pay settlements
The NEC agreed to write to the Cabinet Office demanding urgent pay talks. The ballot result shows that 85.6% of our members voted for strike action over pay, showing the strength of feeling on this issue. Therefore, it is important that we convey this message to the Cabinet Office.
The NEC also agreed to support and coordinate delegated Groups and branches in pay negotiations. The NEC agreed to call an urgent meeting of senior lay reps to discuss bargaining at delegated level, consider guidance for negotiators, and the potential for further ballots for industrial action. The NEC agreed to fully support groups of members who wish to ballot for industrial action at delegated level.
The 2019 pay campaign starts here
The budget in November will set government spending for 2019. The NEC has already agreed to support a joint union judicial review into the process for publishing the Treasury pay remit.
The budget will take place in November 2018, where the government will set out its spending plans for 2019. If the pay cap is not lifted and the current government spending plans remain in place, then the 2019 pay remit will be similar to the 2018 pay remit. It will also almost certainly follow, that we will need to ballot for strike action again over pay. So the NEC agreed that the 2019 pay campaign will start now.
A campaign plan will be put to the September NEC which will be designed to ensure that if we need to ballot next year we will beat the 50% ballot threshold. The plan will include meetings of reps in our regions and nations in the autumn, building our organisation in key branches, recruiting new members and activists, and collecting and cleansing our data. The campaign plan will include consideration of a major conference or event on the pay campaign at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019.
Ballot threshold and postal voting
In the October 2017 consultative ballot nearly half of our members voted online, but currently in statutory ballots, only postal voting is allowed. During the passage of the Trade Union Act 2016 the government agreed to a review of the use of electronic balloting in trade union ballots for industrial action. The government has taken no further action in relation to these recommendations.
Consequently, it is important to explore whether there is a legal challenge which can be made to the current legislation on the basis that the combination of the 50% threshold and the requirement for postal voting, place unlawful restrictions on the right to freedom of association. In the event that there is an arguable legal case, it will also possible to explore if other unions wish to be jointly included in any action.
The NEC agreed to seek counsel’s opinion on whether the combination of the ballot threshold and the requirement for postal ballots infringe the right to freedom of association.
We are determined to continue the campaign on pay this year; legally, through departmental talks and industrial action if necessary, and next year; through building our union so that we if we need to ballot for strike action we can be certain that we will beat the 50% threshold.
Thank you for your continued support.