How to win the next pay ballot

The key to winning a pay ballot in Spring is being certain we have enough activity on the ground to secure the minimum 50% turnout we need.

There are ways to test the level of activity, readiness and strength in each area, and this is now the focus for the coming weeks and months.

Here are the priorities as part of our ‘steps to winning’ plan:

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  Every GEC and BEC needs a plan to win.  The NEC has proposed that each GEC sets aside a minimum of three hours in their next meeting to develop a group specific plan (with measurable outcomes) for: branch renewal; systematic recruitment initiatives; increase in participation and engagement by members; substantial progress in updating membership records (including home email and phone number), so as to be ‘ballot ready’ both procedurally and ‘culturally’.

The most urgent test we have set ourselves is to get at least 2,000 reps and members to attend a series of pay campaign training and briefing sessions in November – the aim is to have many more people helping us win on pay. This is 10 times the number that attended pre-ballot sessions in June. The sessions are open to any PCS member and branches are urged to encourage at least 10 out of 100 of their members to come. Interest can be registered online. See here for more.

The November sessions will deal with ways to identify new activists and recruit new members as part of the PCS plan to reach 200,000 members, and recruit 10,000 PCS Advocates, by 2020.

In some of our largest workplaces and branches, there are comparatively small numbers of reps and Advocates in relation to the number of members, as well as lower recruitment rates and density. In some of those branches – particularly HMRC and DWP – we now need to focus on significantly increasing the number of named active members to reach the desired ratio of one per 26 members.

As well as increasing voting levels, and recruiting more new members, increased activism will take the pressure off hard-working reps and BEC members.

We are aiming to increase membership levels by 5% before April. This takes systematic recruitment and organising initiatives. We need to transform the perception of being a union member from being ‘an insurance policy’ to being an active participant in the union’s attempt to build sufficient power – ultimately this means that our employers have to say ‘Yes’ when they want to say ‘No’.

The November sessions will cover recruitment as part of the PCS plan to reach 200,000 members by 2020.

What can we change to make members want to attend their branch AGM? Can we win a ballot if we can’t rely on mass engagement with our members?
As part of our ‘steps to winning’ plan we are asking reps to aim for a target of 25% attendance at their AGM in February/March. Start planning now to maximise attendance at AGMs.

As the penultimate step before holding a ballot, we want to be in a position to be able to hold face-to-face conversations with at least 90% of our members.  In the Home Office group, reps have devised a plan to encourage every activist to speak to 30 PCS members, and 10 non-members, between now and the end of January. Members will be asked if they would like to get involved in union activity, if they are prepared to vote in the next ballot, and what issues matter to them. The outcome of each conversation will be logged.

The group’s target is to have had one-to-one conversations with more than 9,000 members and 3,000 non-members. The idea was presented to other reps on the basis that we need to scale up this initiative so that we can use our nation-wide network of reps and advocates to speak to 140,000 members. See here for more.


In addition, analysis of the summer statutory pay ballot showed that members for whom we hold a personal email address were four times more likely to have voted than members for whom we don’t hold a personal email address.

PCS is aiming to have gathered personal email addresses for at least 80% of members by April. Our digital team are developing a system to make it easier for members to update their details but they still need to be made aware of the importance of it.

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