Participation is key to prevailing on pay

These are still extremely challenging times and your continued hard work is keeping the country going during the Covid-19 crisis.

Our negotiating team has been meeting with the Cabinet Office regularly to secure important national agreements on your safety. The Cabinet Office line remains that everyone should work from home where they can and we’ve made good progress on this. We’ve also been working hard to make sure that for those of you who have to go into work, your employer is doing everything it can to make it safe.

Our top priority is your safety and we’ve made it clear to the government that it should be theirs too. That’s why we’ve launched the PCS ‘5 Tests for Safe Working’. These tests are a vital way to health-check every workplace and you are all encouraged to talk to your union reps about applying them where you work.

On pay, you’ve been disgracefully betrayed again with the offer of yet another below-inflation pay rise. The government is happy to praise you at the despatch box for your contribution during the pandemic one minute, and insult you with a derisory pay offer the next.

We’re asking members to sign and share a petition that recognises the essential role you’ve played during the pandemic, opposes real-terms cuts to your pay and calls for a pay rise across the civil service and related areas. It will put some pressure on government but it won’t be enough on its own. It will help us to recruit and strengthen our union in case we need to ballot for industrial action in the future.

Member participation will be the key to success in these campaigns. Please get involved, talk to your reps and recruit your colleagues to PCS.

As you continue to battle the impacts of the pandemic and the government’s unfair treatment, PCS will be there fighting by your side.

Black Lives Matter

I also want to express my solidarity with all those taking part in the Black Lives Matter protests. PCS fully supports international efforts to eradicate the systemic racism that is a daily reality for millions of people.

PCS is extremely proud of its diverse membership and has been at the forefront of campaigning against racism and fascism. BME workers have played a pivotal role during the pandemic, often on the frontline, and this has exposed deep-rooted inequalities. It’s an outrage that BME workers are four times more likely to die from the virus than white workers of the same age.

I’m pleased that after pressure from PCS, the Equality and Human Rights Commission will carry out an inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on BME workers.

With divisions in the UK widening and an emboldened far right on the march, PCS is more determined than ever to challenge the evil of racism.

This article appears in PCS People issue 2, 2020.

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