Fight goes on: building our union

What the union has been through this summer with the national pay ballot has been “tough” but has ultimately put us in a better position for the future, Mark Serwotka told members in a recent PCS Facebook Live event.

Between May and July nearly 5,000 new members joined PCS. During the ballot period more than 50,000 members were contacted by phone and huge amounts of invaluable data was gathered that will help inform the union’s next tactics.

Moreover, the campaign successfully reversed a steady decline in ballot turnouts that the union had been experiencing since 2004, and delivered the largest vote for industrial action in the union’s history.

The disappointment felt about not reaching the 50% turnout threshold was shared by everyone, but “far from being demoralised we have got to bounce back even stronger and get into those [weaker] areas to organise better, to ensure next year we again get an 85% yes vote but on a turnout that is way over 50%,” said Mark.

“And then next year, if that happens, we’ll look back on this year, not with anger, but seeing it was part of the process of the union growing and developing.”

Confirming that the union’s 2019 pay campaign was already under way, Mark said “our determination to fight the scourge of low and unfair pay in the civil service and related bodies is as absolute today as it has ever been”.

In it’s post-ballot meeting, the union’s NEC members heard that the ballot result had shown that there’s a desire to take large scale industrial action, but also that we currently do not have the organisation in place to ensure that over 50% of members vote in a postal ballot.

While there is clearly work to do to ensure PCS is as well organised as possible in all branches, the scale of activity during the pay ballot had strengthened the level of union organisation and participation in thousands of workplaces, said a branch briefing.  

Turnout statistics divided by employer, added to information from the 2017 consultative pay ballot, has provided a rich source of data on our organisational strengths and weaknesses.  

Branches are being contacted by a full time officer to provide feedback on the ballot, offer support and training to reps and consider ways in which we’re able to use the information – and increased levels of participation – to build the union in all workplaces.

The key message now is that there is a great sense of pride in the magnificent effort our members, reps and staff have put in to this campaign so far. It is essential that we use the momentum we have collectively generated and continue to build and grow stronger.
To be ballot ready we need to ensure that:

  • we are actively encouraging existing members to get involved in the union
  • we have contact information (email addresses and mobile numbers) for every single member
  • we know where our members are and where non-members are, and
  • we are recruiting new members to the union.

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Updated 23 August 2018

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