PCS members were out in force to demand a decent pay rise as they joined the clarion call for a new deal for working people as they marched at the TUC's national demo on Saturday (12).
Our members were among thousands to take to the streets along the 2.5 mile rainy route from Victoria Embankment to the afternoon rally in Hyde Park. Led by the vibrant energy of their samba band and the cry of vuvuzelas, PCS members brought the message of solidarity to their demands for a fully-funded, above inflation pay rise.
Our demand is for a fully-funded 5% pay rise, a living wage of £10 an hour and pay equality across the civil service. Our union knows better than most the crippling impact that low pay and below-inflation rises has on workers' living standards.
With the year-on-year 1% pay cap leaving people poorer than before the crash in 2008, members voted overwhelmingly for a campaign of action on pay. Last year's historic consultative ballot was sparked after the government only offered police and prison service an end to the 1% cap, ignoring tens of thousands in the civil service.
On the march, HM prison service staff member Adam explained how he and other PCS members won equal pay with prison officers but others in the union did not.
He said: "Everyone is working harder than ever before, but living standards are falling dramatically. We want pay equality for every worker."
Angered by the government's divide and rule tactics, PCS members voted for action on pay by demanding an above inflation pay rise for all in a consultative ballot at the end of last year.
Another marcher, Rhea, who works at the National Assembly for Wales, said: "We need a pay rise in line with inflation otherwise we're being paid less than what we were on before. So many people are ending up trapped in spiralling debt."
Gemma, who works for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said: "Everybody deserves a pay rise, it's just gone on for too long.
"There has to be a reasonable above inflation pay rise otherwise good people will leave and we'll be left with a decimated civil service."
Amid a sea of PCS flags, its giant yellow balloon and placards stating "we all deserve a pay rise", the steadfast crowd wound its way to the rally point in Hyde Park to hear a host of inspirational speeches and music.
In a rousing speech to the assembled crowd, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The public sector pay cap allegedly has gone, but if you're unfortunate enough to work for the government, i.e. you're a PCS member, we're being told that it is 1% – the eleventh consecutive year of pay cuts. And the low-paid, hard-working men and women who work in our parts of the public sector deserve more.
"So let me announce this, if our conference agrees the week after next, we are moving to a statutory strike ballot of 150,000 PCS members. And we want everyone here to support our members, support our reps, because we shouldn't have to go on strike. But if the government doesn't give us what we want, strike we will."
Moments later, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage to address the assembled crowd.
He pledged that a future Labour government would create a ministry to guarantee workers' rights and "give workers a say in their own future".
Get involved in PCS
We are urging all PCS members to get involved in our union, to:
- attend meetings
- make sure their contact details are up to date so that if we send you a ballot paper it gets to the right address. Do it before midnight on Thursday (17) to enter a prize draw to win an iPad and other great prizes.
- persuade non-members to join PCS now.
We deserve a pay rise, our members know that, their families know that. Let’s ensure that in 2018 the government is forced to give them what they deserve.