As an organising union, we want every member to know that the primary reason for joining PCS is to be involved in improving conditions in the workplace as part of a wider movement for change.
However, when members join PCS they also receive access to a range of membership benefits. We tend to put less emphasis on these benefits as this can risk confusing members over what our trade union is for - membership of PCS is not about insurance policies and it is not about accessing retail discounts.
If we plan how we use these membership benefits, we can use them to help build our union though.
For example, the Christmas and January period is often a financially difficult time. Spending on Christmas presents, extra heating bills and other seasonal outgoings can lead to pressure on savings - and even debt.
Here, membership benefits can provide direct practical support to members. PCS Plus gives members access to energy providers and other services at a reduced rate. This could provide real breathing space and help free up some extra cash.
Those practical options can may be a real help. However, the pressures on a members wage can make them feel like they are simply not managing their money properly, or saving enough. Crucially, this is how we can link our membership benefits to wider organising work.
We know that members are not struggling as they are failing to manage their wages – they are struggling as they are not being paid enough.
When promoting PCS Plus – whether on leaflets, posters, newsletter, or anywhere else – include a reference or link to the PCS national pay campaign, and encourage members to find out more about the issue. In this way, members can receive immediate advice and support, but there is also a political and organising point being made that the real world problems are part of a wider structural problem – and the union can provide the solution.
A brief Christmas or January newsletter or leaflet in your workplace which promotes our membership benefits and pay campaign at the same time would be a great way to help build the profile of the union, engage members and recruit new joiners.
Other ways to use membership benefits
A newsletter or leaflet is just one way to link membership benefits and organising.
In inductions we can always use membership benefits as an additional extra that is gained from joining PCS. But we can also use this moment to reinforce how we win improvements as a trade union: benefits are only won by the union because we have a high membership level have gone to negotiations to
Even when we are talking about membership benefits we can still be explaining that our union’s power is in our members.
The PCS Credit Union presents another great opportunity to help build the union. As well as having a union in the workplace, we can also use the credit union to illustrate that we need unions involved in the economy. The credit union can again link up practical support with wider political and organising points.
For many young workers, housing is a priority issue, and there is a growth in housing unions across the UK, such as Acorn in England and Wales or Living Rent in Scotland. Why not organise a ‘union day’ at work for all staff and invite in the PCS Credit Union and one of the housing unions and educate workers on the role collective organising and power can have: whether in our workplace, our economy or our communities?
Being creative with membership benefits
Whether as part of a winter newsletter, in inductions for new starts, or as part of activity days in workplaces, we can use membership benefits to help organise and build our union.
We have a range of services and providers that members can benefit from through the PCS membership, and branches can use them in creative ways to link financial support with our wider campaigning work.
The list of membership benefit providers:
This is an online platform that offers membership discounts on a range of products and services including;
o LV insurance
o Days out
o Energy bills.
Death in service benefit
This paid out to next of kin should a member pass away whilst still in service. 2020 payment is £1748.
A job for reps - it would be good to remind members to ensure the details of the person they have nominated are up to date.
General legal advice
Members can access this for any legal matter, excluding personal injury and employment law matters. This service is operated by Slater and Gordon.
Call 0800 916 9066
Personal Injury cover
This scheme covers members and their families who have had an accident or suffer injury or ill health where the claim would be made within the UK
Call 0800 328 3255
Free wills service
A basic free will is available to members
Lighthouse Financial Services
Free initial financial consultation, check the website or 08000 85 85 90