News from the NEC December 2021
It’s clear that when it comes to pay and pensions, you are being shamefully let down by this government and the membership’s outrage is only growing stronger. The next step is to gauge the strength of feeling amongst members for a national industrial action ballot, so the NEC has agreed to a national consultative ballot in early 2022. The consultative ballot will give you a chance to have your say on what you are prepared to do to get the pay rise you deserve and end the public sector pension robbery.
The NEC was given an important update on the latest developments on the national campaign. Our recent focus has been on the pensions robbery, which members tell us is an issue they are deeply concerned about. Since 2019, you’ve been overpaying by 2% into your pension each month and that’s why the NEC felt it was vital that the pensions issue should continue be a key element of the national campaign.
At the start of November, we launched the pensions robbery calculator (https://www.pcs.org.uk/our-pensions-calculator), which instantly tells members the amount of money they are losing. This is proving to be a popular and useful tool, with just under 13,000 hits in the first month. It’s also clear that the injustice of the pensions robbery has angered members. The NEC agreed that it’s crucial that the union harnesses this anger to mobilise members and take the campaign to the next level.
To do this, we need to keep you informed on the pensions issue to arm you with all the key information and facts. That’s why we held several regional and national pensions meetings and seminars throughout November. As we escalate the campaign in the new year and hold further meetings, we’re encouraging as many people as possible to attend.
National Pay Claim
Alongside the pensions issue, pay is another area of great concern for members. Over a decade of pay freezes and caps has seen your living standards plummet by 20%. Disgracefully, we’ve seen virtually no progress on the pay claim we submitted last year, which included a return to national bargaining and a cost of living rise of 10%.
Given the lack of progress, the NEC decided to reiterate the demands and submit a new pay claim with one important change. We’ve heard first-hand from members about how chronic low pay is having a devastating impact on them and their families and that’s why the NEC agreed to include in the pay claim a demand for a minimum wage of £15 per hour.
The sharp increase in cases, in large part due to the Omicron variant, is a concerning development. The NEC reiterated the importance of the union’s position that all staff should work from home wherever possible. Where this is absolutely not possible, H&S arrangements should be urgently reviewed with a view that interactions with the public must be minimised as much as possible, if not stopped. Where such contact cannot be halted then mitigations must be put in place, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and a thorough cleaning regime.
PCS Conferences 2022
The NEC had previously agreed that further work should be done on the possibility of using online functionality to enhance ADC 2022. Utilising these features, alongside a physical conference in Brighton, has the potential to greatly improve participation and engagement. When consulted, most groups stated that they want a physical group conference in 2022, if possible, with only MOJ group opting for an online conference. A survey of branches to gather their views on whether an online element to ADC will increase participation is ongoing and initial responses show support for the hybrid approach. The early survey results also suggest support for allowing online attendees to speak and take part in the voting procedure. Further details will be agreed at the next NEC meeting.
Withdrawal of support for National Shop Steward Network (NSSN)
The NSSN was set up by the RMT union at a conference in 2007, with support from PCS. It aimed to establish relationships between reps and stewards across the labour movement and support unions’ campaigns and disputes. It’s now become clear that the NSSN is no longer operating in line with its founding principles and only retains formal support from unions, with little to no engagement. The NSSN is closely aligned to the Socialist Party. The NSSN chair and secretary are leading members of that organisation which has consistently engaged in political attacks on PCS, including repeatedly attacking PCS in public. Our association with the NSSN not only has no material benefit for members but is in fact damaging to PCS and the wider movement. The NEC, therefore, agreed to formally withdraw support for the National Shop Stewards Network.