During times such as these, the importance of solidarity and community is drawn into sharp focus. Ahead of us lie unprecedented challenges and that’s why you need a union on your side more than ever. As the impact of the coronavirus begins to intensify, I want to reassure you that your union is still here to fight your corner.
Firstly, I hope that you are all keeping safe and taking all the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your colleagues and your family. Secondly, I want to praise the hard work of PCS members. You play an integral role in keeping this country running and keeping it safe. As people and businesses have been trying to deal with the effects of the crisis, you’ve been there to help people through those difficulties.
It’s clear that in the short-term, working practices for many of you will be different, with remote working and other changes becoming the norm. This is new territory for staff, employers and trade unions. PCS is having to adapt to these constantly changing circumstances but, be in no doubt, your union is not going anywhere.
With that in mind, we’re meeting regularly with the Cabinet Office and other employers and raising issues arising from the coronavirus crisis. These include demands around sickness absence and disciplinary procedures, homeworking arrangements and what constitutes a key worker. We are seeking full agreement with employers on these issues. We received a huge number of responses from our first members’ email survey and we are also putting these issues to the Cabinet Office.
Additionally, we are putting four key national demands for members in the civil service and related areas.
In this crisis, we need immediate action to safeguard members’ jobs and livelihoods. So we’re calling for the suspension of the delegated pay system and demanding that the government deliver an above-inflation pay increase for all staff. We’re also calling for all office closures and redundancies to be halted, alongside a commitment to no changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Our final demand is for the refund of the extra 2% in pensions contributions you have been unfairly paying.
Our demands are crucial in ensuring the civil service and related areas can continue to operate and deliver essential public services. It’s also the least you deserve for your service during the crisis and for the unfair treatment you’ve received for more than a decade.
Communication with, and among, members will also be different and there is now a need for much greater emphasis on digital communications.
This technology will allow us to communicate and organise in a different way and work on developing these tools is urgently taking place.
The resolve of PCS and its members remains as strong as ever. The ongoing corona crisis will only serve to strengthen that resolve. The relevance of PCS and the trade union movement has never been greater.
This article appears in the latest issue of PCS People.