Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 March 2021

PCS leadership failures lead to concession bargaining on pay

PCS members on strike 8.4.19, photo London Socialist Party

PCS members on strike 8.4.19, photo London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Semple, PCS national executive committee member (personal capacity)

The HM Revenue and Customs group is the second largest in the PCS. Its Left Unity leadership has just balloted members on a three-year pay deal. This deal, while giving a 13.75% pay increase, means a significant worsening of conditions for many members. Unsurprisingly, in the absence of any lead to the contrary - given the union recommended a 'yes' vote and lack of all the information available - members voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal.

Funding your own pay rise - or concession bargaining - should not be an approach associated with left-led unions such as PCS and its anti-pay freeze public stance. Yet general secretary Mark Serwotka told the union's February national executive that he had informed the Cabinet Office that, even in the context of a pay freeze, deals could still be done, and exampled the current HMRC pay deal - which he supported.

PCS policy is opposed to pay caps and pay freezes, is opposed to trading conditions for pay and is for an immediate pay increase of 10% that starts to make up for the 20% loss in real pay since 2010. Demands that need to be backed up with the necessary campaign and action.

In late 2017, the union carried out a non-statutory consultative ballot, which secured huge membership support for the union's pay demands and strike action. A statutory ballot which was delayed until mid-2018, did secure majority support for strike action but failed to get the 50% turnout required by the anti-union laws.

Socialist Party members called for a full debate to determine the way forward and improve prospects for achieving a 'yes' vote in any future ballot - including demands beyond pay and disaggregated ballots within a national framework.

The Left Unity leadership said if we simply organised more effectively next time then we would beat the threshold. But 2019 was a rerun of 2018, and with a similar result.

A 10% claim was tabled in February 2020, shockingly almost immediately withdrawn by the leadership - a gesture towards national unity over the Covid-19 pandemic. They asked instead for an inflation-proof increase. The Cabinet Office thanked Mark Serwotka for his "constructive approach" and imposed a 1% to 2.5% pay limit.

Faced with this humiliation, the Left Unity leadership reinstated the original 10% claim and launched a petition! This abject approach in 2020 led directly to the abandonment of any national campaign. Left Unity's flawed approach has led to the collapse of successive national pay campaigns and to concession bargaining.

The Broad Left Network, a PCS, socialist, rank-and-file group in which Socialist Party members are active, opposed the divisive "fund your own pay rise" deal in HMRC and nationally, and has consistently argued for a campaign on pay, linked with other key issues such as pensions, to build support amongst the membership to help win a statutory ballot.

The fight for decent pay with no strings attached must continue. A fresh approach with a change of leadership is needed to achieve our demands - support the Broad Left Network candidates in the 2021 PCS elections.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 10 March 2021:

NHS pay

NHS pay - 15% now

NHS workers say: We are ready to fight Tory pay insult

Police disgracefully stop NHS pay protest


Super-deduction will help big business pay less tax

The 'old normal' meant poverty for young people

What we think

Tories keep bailing out bosses, while piling pain on workers and public services


Workers respond to 'back to school'

Workplace news

British Gas strikers reject deal and carry on fighting

Goodlord striker speaks out: 'workers have to fight for our skills to be appreciated'

Stop union busting on the buses: Reinstate Declan Clune and Moe Muhsin Manir

Sparks deskilling protests

Leicester university workers ballot for action against redundancies

Sainsbury's pay offer shows future will only be 'great pay' if we fight

PCS leadership failures lead to concession bargaining on pay

Manchester bus drivers' indefinite strikers fight on

London bus drivers continue walkout

Rosa Luxemburg

150th anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg's birth

Wealth Tax

Would a wealth tax end poverty and inequality?

Campaigns news

Socialist women speak at inspirational International Women's Day online rally

Why I joined the Socialist Party - to fight for the future of the working class

Why I'm standing for TUSC

Build subscriptions to the Socialist

Fighting fund target achieved - keep up the momentum

International news

Historic union battle at Alabama warehouse

10 years ago - the Fukushima nuclear disaster: "We came close to losing northern Japan"


The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 10 March 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


trianglePCS elections: increased support for Broad Left Network

trianglePCS members at Swansea DVLA to strike for safety

triangleHMRC: Pay deal agreed but at what cost?

triangleOnline workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses

trianglePCS: Vote for rank-and-file socialist Broad Left Network candidates


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleBristol Water walkout

triangleMarley Tiles workers strike against bullying bosses

triangleElect a socialist leadership to fight for national action and a united campaign


triangleGMB general secretary election: A fighting, socialist leadership needed

triangleFreeports spell deregulation, low pay and a new race to the bottom

triangle'Chingford skinhead' spills the beans over government surveillance of union activists


triangleStaffordshire TUSC: Liverpool - a city that dared to fight and win

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Vaccinations, innovation and capitalism

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



London: #BuhariMustGo protests are back


Young people

The system is broken... youth unite and fight back



Defiance continues against anti-protest bill


Fighting Fund

Fighting Fund: An amazing 39,948 raised



Marley Tiles workers strike against bullying bosses


British Gas

New British Gas deadline and strike dates



Bristol Water walkout



Right-wing Labour and Tory commissioners out!


Trade union

Trade union fighters rally to support victimised workers



Online rally - 150 years since the Paris Commune


British Gas

British Gas workers strike ahead of 'fire and rehire' deadline



BT Openreach engineers step up the pressure with five-day strike action


Equal pay

Asda equal pay ruling victory - now fight for equal pay for all



SPS Technologies workers strike against potential pay loss of 3,000 a year



'Chingford skinhead' spills the beans over government surveillance of union activists

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021