A key part of what PCS offers its members is support and advice when things go wrong at work. That advice and support should be provided by as competent representative, supported as necessary by more experienced reps and union officers.
Members can expect a response to an initial contact with the union within a reasonable timescale, which may be influenced by the workload of their representative and the complexity of their case.
Members can expect their representative to offer them advice and support in progressing their issues, provided that their issues have a reasonable prospect of being resolved. Their representative will agree a course of action with them, which may involve them or their representative in taking further action to progress the matter – members cannot expect to simply hand a problem on to their rep, for the rep to deal with alone.
Representatives should respect the wishes of the member regarding confidentiality – the rep should not make contact with the employer or any representative of the employer, without the member’s permission. Members must also accept, however, that the ability of their rep to assist them may be compromised if they are not permitted to seek advice on the case and/or not permitted to raise the matter with the employer either at all or at an appropriate level.
Members need to conduct themselves, in relationships with representatives, in a reasonable, polite manner and accept and understand the conflicting pressures that reps have to work under. PCS Reps are not expected to put up with abusive or other unacceptable behaviour from members and may either pass their case on or, in certain circumstances, withdraw support where members behave unacceptably. Members also need to accept that PCS representatives are not expected to be available at any time of day or night for contact. Contact times will be agreed between the rep and the member and both are expected to respect these boundaries, which largely exist to protect the well-being of PCS reps.
Members need to be completely open and honest with their representative. Reps are there to help and advise, not to judge you but they cannot fully advise on the best course of action if they are not told all of the facts truthfully.
PCS reps have access to experienced advice and guidance, including competent professional advice from PCS officials and, where necessary, to legal advisers. Not every case will require legal advice and there is no right for members to demand such advice.
Whilst PCS understands that the issues remain the property of the member and it is for the member to decide what constitutes a satisfactory outcome, PCS cannot expend resources to pursue a case beyond the point where it is clear either that a reasonable offer of settlement is available or there is clearly no further prospect of achieving such a settlement or taking a successful case to law. In such circumstances, PCS reserves the right to withdraw support, subject to making it clear to the member that this is our intention.
If a member is unhappy with the advice or representation received, they should first raise their concerns with their representative, explaining why they are unhappy and what they are seeking. If the representative is unable or unwilling to change their position, the matter can be referred to a more senior representative within the bargaining area or to the PCS officer responsible for that bargaining area.
There is a formal PCS complaints procedure – which can be found here.