Record turnout in PCS industrial action ballot but Tory anti-union legislation blocks industrial action. PCS national leadership to consider next steps in national pay campaign.
Branches will have seen the announcement that despite members voting overwhelmingly (78.9%) for industrial action in the fight for fair pay, the union has fallen agonisingly short of breaking through the artificial turnout barrier placed by the Tory government on all industrial action ballots; coming as we did, just 2,900 short of the 50% minimum turnout the anti-union laws demand.
No doubt the Tories will say that it’s reasonable to demand a 50% turnout in the ballot; but let’s compare that test to, say, getting a seat in the House of Commons and making the laws that are binding on everyone in the country:
• Since 1997 there have been 68 by-elections for parliamentary seats in the House of Commons. Of those 68 separate ballots, only 17 (that’s 25%) were elected on turnouts of 50% or more; so if the same ballot turnout law had been applied to by-elections, three-quarters of all successful parliamentary by-election candidates since 1997 wouldn’t have been allowed to take their seat
• Throughout all of those parliamentary by-elections, only 19 of the successful candidates (28%) won following a larger turnout than we achieved in our pay ballot.
The Tory government’s hypocrisy is worse when you compare it to the turnout in local elections. According to the House of Commons Library, if the same ‘50% turnout law’ were to be applied in all the local elections taking place between the years 1973-2016, you would find that in those 43 years:
• Only once has the overall turnout in London borough elections exceeded 50%
• Only 3 times has the overall turnout in Metropolitan Borough Council elections exceeded 50%
• Only 3 times has the overall turnout for county council elections exceeded 50%
• Only 3 times has the overall turnout for district council elections exceeded 50%.
So don’t let them tell you there’s a need for a minimum turnout.
To all those thousands of members who voted in the ballot, your union thanks you for your support.
The need for a fair pay rise hasn’t diminished, and PCS will continue with the campaign for decent pay, without those pay rises being at the expense of hard-won terms and conditions of service. With this in mind, the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) is meeting this week to consider the next steps in the campaign.
Once the NEC has determined the next steps, you can be sure that Revenue and Customs group will continue to work closely with the national leadership of the union, in order to explore how we can further the aims of the campaign.
We will of course, keep members fully informed of developments.