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Dave Semple, PCS and Socialist Party

The PCS union which organises civil service and public sector workers is holding a consultative ballot of its members on pay and conditions. The ballot, which takes place between 14 February and 21 March, will test support for the union’s 2022 claim, and the readiness of members to take action. The ballot will be by both post and electronically.

The union’s claim includes a number of elements besides pay such as:

  • 10% cost of living increase
  • ‘London Weighting’ minimum of £5,000 a year
  • Living wage of £15 an hour
  • 35-days annual leave on entry
  • Reduced working hours
  • Reduction of 2% in pension contributions

The inclusion of demands beyond pay is something Socialist Party members proposed in previous ballots. We argued this would help win. This union leadership derisively dismissed our arguments as “shopping list bargaining”. We welcome the change of approach, although we believe that the demands should include other issues of membership concern such as staffing and safety.

Socialist Party members in the union will be working hard for a massive ‘Yes’ vote, and for a national campaign which is overdue following two years of inaction, with the union leadership offering no resistance to the government pay restrictions.

We will argue for a massive ‘Yes’ vote to demonstrate membership anger over pay, and these other issues, especially in the face of huge increases in living costs. Prices generally are expected to go up by over 7% – a thirty-year high. Devastating fuel bills and the National Insurance increase will add to this bleak outlook.

We will be pushing for a massive turnout to show the 50% statutory ballot threshold – required by the Tory anti-union laws – can be achieved. Previous statutory ballots have come close to the 50% threshold but failed to clear it. A national disaggregated statutory ballot would give those groups of members who clear the threshold a legal mandate for action. This is what we will put forward and argue for.

The union’s current Left Unity leadership parked the union’s 2020 pay claim as a national unity gesture, and then embraced concession bargaining (trading conditions for pay), to avoid taking on the government pay freeze.

For these reasons it goes into this ballot with a question mark over how serious it is about challenging the government. It needs to spell out what sort of action will be taken and demonstrate it is actively seeking to join up with other public sector unions to form a coalition of the willing to take on this weak, scandal-riddled Tory government.

Vote ‘Yes’ to the 2022 claim, vote ‘Yes’ for a national campaign and vote ‘Yes’ for action.

  • Nominate Broad Left Network rank-and-file socialist candidates in the PCS elections. See full slate, search ‘PCS 2022 elections’ at socialistparty.org.uk, including Andi Bridges (HMRC) who was left off the slate in the last issue of the Socialist