Read our updated coronavirus crisis branch organising guide

As advice, guidance and information is changing quickly across PCS during the coronavirus crisis we are regularly updating our guidance for our branches.

Our short guide offers 7 suggestions and reminders to branch reps and activists about running branches efficiently and effectively during the crisis.

Trade unions have a leading role to play during the current crisis. Our primary focus is to look out for one another, working together to come through the most extreme test we have faced collectively in our lifetimes. PCS members, and increasingly non-members, tell us they want to part of a union that is a route to be able to marshal our collective strength so that we can help others, at work and in our communities, as well as a reliable and confident source of support and advice. Read and share the 7 suggestions and reminders to branch reps and activists about running branches efficiently and effectively.

1 Set up a digital branch executive committee and branch

With increasing amounts of reps staying at home the day-to-day running of branches and communication with members will be more difficult. Start by setting up a WhatsApp or Facebook group of the BEC, including additional reps or advocates in your branch, so that all the activists can keep in touch with each other even when not in work. It may also be feasible to set up a separate branch WhatsApp or Facebook group.

Ask members if they want to be added, so they can receive quick updates but also keep reps and advocates informed about what is taking place in their offices. Branch reps will shortly be able to use the ‘Chatter’ function on their PCS Digital log in. Chatter will allow branch reps to contact all members and invite members in to meetings and exchange information. Watch out for updates.

Tip: Not all members want to have Facebook accounts, but almost everyone has a mobile phone that can run WhatsApp - so WhatsApp may be the more useful method. It’s very simple to download and access the platform on your phone. Supplement your main platform by copying to other apps that different demographics of your membership may favour, such as Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat.

2 Ask non-members to join

More non-members are joining PCS than in any other time in the union’s history. Working people want the support and reassurance of being part of a union, for their own protection and to be able to support one another. Ask non-members to join our union now.

3 Urge members to update their personal contact information

We need to be able to contact each other. Reps and activists should remind members to register for and log in to PCS Digital and update:

• Their mobile number

• Their personal email address

• Their postal address. And ask every member to remind their friend and colleagues to do the same. Branches should use the Organising App and prioritise members who have a red box on their contact information, followed by those with amber boxes. These are members who we hold no, or only partial contact information for.

4 Produce a regular branch bulletin

Keep your branch bulletin simple, text-based and regular, and use it to keep it in touch with your members. Even if there’s not much to say, say it anyway.

Let members know your branch is there and advise them how to make contact, obtain ask for advice, and how to contribute ideas and suggestions to make the branch work more effectively. Direct members to information that will be regularly updated on the news section of this website.

5 Encourage members to give us their views

PCS is running a number of ongoing surveys to ask our members what’s happening and what their priorities are. We also ask members to commit to get involved in their union and in union activity. Getting direct feedback from members is crucial in shaping our strategic response to the key issues. Remind you members to respond to the surveys when they receive them by email.

6 Lots of members want to help – encourage them

Thousands of members have told us they would like to get involved in their union. Sign them up to be PCS Advocates. Explain the role. Direct new advocates to the advocate section of the website and the training and support available. The more members actively involved, the stronger the union becomes.

7 Working in the community – setting up PCS Locals

PCS members across all branches and workplaces are coming together in the communities where they live and work so they can help others and continue to campaign on the big issues, on pay, equality, job security.

There are already dozens of PCS Locals that have been set up. You will be able to sign up to your PCS Local in the next few days. Separate guidance and advice will be provided on this very shortly, but you can get together with friends and colleagues who are PCS members or non-members interested in joining and getting involved, and get your own PCS Local up and running now. Let us know what you have planned and organised by sending an email to organising@pcs.org.uk  

Organising locally has never been more crucial – mutual aid and support networks have already started forming across the country. PCS members will live and work in the same communities, and joining PCS Locals presents with the opportunity to organise at home as well as in work – whether that’s checking in on colleagues who are home working, or dropping off essential supplies to anyone self-isolating.

There are also a large number of job opportunities (even if temporary) at present in some departments due to COVID-19 response. Talking to civil service colleagues in other departments can direct much needed information to other local PCS members e.g. those on precarious contracts

Join PCS today It is a very important time to be a union member and together we are stronger – join PCS online today. If you have questions about the impact of coronavirus on you, visit your PCS employer group page on this website in the first instance. This should be updated regularly with advice and information about the current situation.

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