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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2018

PCS union pay strike ballot - win the vote, win the claim

photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive committee member and PCS Left Unity chair (personal capacity)

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union pay strike ballot has started. From now until 23 July, when the ballot closes, only one thing matters - winning the vote. The union is balloting 125,000 members and needs a 'yes' vote on a turnout of over 50%.

The early signs are that this can be achieved. Activity in branches and workplaces is at a high level with local reps engaging with members - making the case for the union's claim for 5% (or 1,200 a year) and a 'yes' vote.

Tory anti-union laws are designed to make the winning of statutory ballots more difficult. But the Communication Workers' Union and University and College Union disputes show these ballots can be won. PCS strike ballots have also been won, including most recently the union's members in the conciliation service, Acas.

Currently, the government remains entrenched on its 1% pay cap. A massive yes vote for strike action will strengthen the union's position in talks. But it would be wrong to place all our hopes on a yes vote alone doing the trick.

Tactics

As the ballot progresses, simultaneously with driving out the vote, the activist layer will increasingly question what sort of action will be required to shift the government.

The union is committed to consulting groups and members on this issue. We need to start that dialogue with groups now. A mixture of national action and prolonged/intensive targeted action should be talked about.

We need to identify with groups potential strike action targets. Selective action will have an important role to play in the campaign strategy.

However, the main ingredient needs to be national action, possibly of an escalating character as seen in the UCU dispute.

Socialist Party members in PCS are working for a massive turnout and a huge vote for strike action. We will also be arguing for a strike action strategy than can shift the government and win the pay claim.

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