PCS strike at British Library. Photo: Hugo Pierre
PCS strike at British Library. Photo: Hugo Pierre

Katrine Williams, PCS member

Over the period 18 March to 13 May, the PCS will be holding a statutory strike ballot in support of its 2024-25 pay claim.

Socialist Party members in the union and the PCS Broad Left Network (BLN) call for a ‘yes’ vote and will work hard to deliver the 50% turnout required by Tory anti-union laws. The ballot is disaggregated, ie broken down by bargaining group.

Reps and activists all over the union will be working hard to win the ballot. They are not helped by the union’s ‘Left Unity’ leadership’s handling of successive pay campaigns and it’s approach to the current ballot.

The national campaign was ended last summer and in reality there has been no campaigning since. A consultative ballot earlier in the year was launched with no notice or preparation.

While the consultation showed 82% support for strike action, just 66% supported a levy to fund the selective strikes which the executive’s previous campaign heavily relied on. A low turnout in the consultation is of greater concern. We warned this was likely to happen, with little time for preparation and no engagement with the union activists.

The statutory ballot has been launched, again with hardly any notice or time for preparation, and over the heads of reps. The claim itself is unclear: it calls for a cost-of-living rise plus pay restoration, but with no indication of what this means.

The ballot doesn’t include a mandate for overtime bans or other forms of action, which is a serious omission. Unfortunately, no strategy is spelled out for winning the claim.

Rather than a serious attempt to build a campaign on pay, job cuts and other issues, many activists suspect the timing of this ballot is more to do with the current leadership having an eye on the forthcoming national executive and presidential elections.

Nonetheless, PCS members face low pay, cuts and closures, and with a bold campaign we can win this ballot for action.

Socialist Party and BLN members are committed to doing everything possible to secure a ‘yes’ vote with the necessary 50% turnouts in all the groups in this ballot.

PCS president and NEC elections stop press:

Socialist Party and BLN member Marion Lloyd is standing for election as PCS president, alongside a full list of activists in the National Executive Committee elections, standing for change in PCS.

As we go to press, the total of nominations has been announced, with Marion Lloyd winning 71 nominations for president, to the Left Unity candidate (and current acting president)’s 70. This shows it’s all to play for in the NEC and group elections.