The national executive committee (NEC) has met to consider the union’s position if an early general election is called.
We are facing a high likelihood of an early general election. This election will be of crucial importance to PCS members, so the NEC has agreed a campaign strategy for the election in line with our existing conference policy.
The view that a union representing members in the civil service should not intervene in the political arena used to be widely accepted. But, as cuts and privatisation programmes carried out by a succession of governments have fundamentally attacked PCS members’ terms and conditions, we have become more active in political campaigning. Since 2010, Conservative austerity policies have brought such issues to centre stage.
We engage in political campaigning because politicians in parliament and the devolved institutions take the decisions which determine members’ pay, jobs, pensions and working conditions, as well as the public services we both deliver and use.
Political campaigning is a tool to advance our members’ interests in the workplace – to support our industrial strategy and to help us in bargaining situations.
In 2018 PCS annual conference carried policy which agreed that “the election of a UK Labour Government under the leadership and policies of McDonnell and Corbyn is in the interests of PCS members.”
The decision was based on a close examination of Labour policies and how closely they match the policies of PCS and the hopes and aspirations of our members. In particular we examined the following:
- A return to national pay bargaining in the civil service and related bodies, ending the public sector pay cap and introducing a £10 per hour living wage.
- A fair taxation system and investment in HMRC resources.
- Replacing Universal Credit with a humane system and recruiting 5000 extra DWP staff.
- Opposing the office closure programme.
- Opposing cuts to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.
- Protecting civil servants’ pension rights.
- Ending privatisation and outsourcing of public services.
- Repealing anti-union legislation and increasing workers’ rights with a new Ministry of Employment Rights.
- Taking public utilities, private rail companies and the Royal Mail back into public ownership.
- Four extra public holidays a year.
In all of these 10 areas the proposals from Labour either meet, exceed or move substantially towards the PCS policy and would greatly benefit members. The contrast with a Boris Johnson led government which in all likelihood would lead to more cuts, privatisation and further attacks on union organisation is very clear.
How members vote is entirely a matter for them as individuals. But the union has a duty to inform members of the effects on them and the services they deliver of the result of the general election. In England and Wales, therefore, we are recommending a vote for Labour. We will issue separate guidance to members in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the political situation is different and the choices less binary. In all cases we are calling for the removal of the Conservative Westminster government and for a Jeremy Corbyn led government in its place.
Further information will be issued in due course.