Efforts to significantly increase the level of recruitment and union activism in some of PCS’s larger branches are under way, as part of preparations for a potential Spring pay ballot and to meet the union’s overall targets for growth in membership and involvement.
Analysis of the result from the June/July statutory pay ballot – which fell short of the legally required 50% minimum turnout – has shown a clear link between lower levels of activism and lower voting figures.
PCS has a national target of reaching 200,000 members, and recruiting 10,000 PCS Advocates, by 2020.
By August some groups were on track, or had exceeded, the level they should have reached by now to achieve the 2020 membership target. Progress reports show some of the larger branches – including in HMRC, DWP and BEIS – are currently well below projected levels for this stage in the campaign.
Discussions are under way with groups and support is being offered to begin remedying these issues in the worst affected branches.
Another important part of the number-crunching is looking at how many reps or PCS Advocates there are in relation to the number of members in a branch. With our target ratio being one rep or Advocate for every 26 members, many branches are still well short of this ratio, and in most of our target workplaces we have one rep or Advocate for about every 80 members.
In addition, we are focusing on ensuring that every single workplace has a PCS rep, Advocate or point of contact.
National organisers have been deployed to work with regionally-based full-time staff to organise meetings, and identify additional Advocates and union activists, in 10 of these largest branches and workplaces. So far there have been initial deployments to work with HMRC Benton Park View, DVLA Swansea and Home Office London Airports Branches.
DVLA Swansea has already identified an additional 20 Advocates to get involved in the pay campaign, and has established a branch organising committee.
A series of regional pay campaign training and briefing sessions are being held in November. Larger workplaces – with 500 or more members – are being asked to contact their local PCS regional office to arrange a local meeting specifically aimed at members in their branches.
One topic the sessions will deal with will be the fundamental elements of identifying new activists and recruiting new members.
Developing leadership, and the leadership role of activists in Groups and branches, was also covered at a Group Organising Seminar on 20 October. Group Presidents and Organisers agreed a series of steps fundamental to delivering a successful ballot on Spring, building from the November training sessions right up to developing the capacity, by March, to be able to speak face-to-face to 90% of members just before we run a ballot.