The attitude to pay is one of the key things that differentiates us from Left Unity and the Socialist Party. A vote for them is a vote for pay systems not one pay system. If you want national pay then we are the only people arguing for it and therefore you should consider voting for us in the NEC elections. A vote for Left Unity is a vote for the pay status quo.
What we would do on pay
As said before we want national pay and equal pay for all. We don’t want, as the NEC does (see the PCS website for their latest article on pay) ‘more’ equal pay (we don’t want more, we want full equal pay) and coherent pay systems – that is better delegated pay bargaining; we want national bargaining.
If in charge of the union we would run an unrelenting campaign telling members of the differences in pay between departments.
Most PCS members are unaware of the great difference in pay there is, sometimes running in the thousands of pounds, for civil servants at the same grade. We would publish pay tables showing the differences and find a hundred and one ways to hammer home the message regarding unequal pay in the Civil Service. Unlike the current leadership, we realise, as does every big business, that repetition of message (adverts) is vital. We would publish the best rates of pay to be found in the Civil Service for each grade. Members would be told again and again – and again – that if they were not being paid these best rates then they were being underpaid. We would try and inculcate into member’s minds that the best rates are in fact the rate for the job.
As said the differences in pay are large; in some cases 10% or more.
So let’s compare and contrast in this case a pay campaign that asks for 10% to one that asks for equal pay.
Members hopefully would agree that a 10% increase would be good and indeed deserved but they might think it unrealistic and so not achievable and therefore possibly not one they could fight for.
Psychologically it is easier to campaign for equal pay, to achieve something that already exists, for fairness than just to ask for 10% – though in reality the effect of equal pay (in this case) would be a 10% increase. Of course there are possible legal remedies for unequal pay in a way there is not for a 10% increase.
Now we have raised in the past the need for this campaign of information on unequal pay. One of the most senior members of the union was dubious as they worried that members might attack the union for there being unequal pay and for doing nothing about it!
We have no such fears; rightly members may say ‘why have we waited so long to campaign on equal pay?’ but the prevailing emotion we think, if the campaign of information was as unrelenting and imaginative as we would want, would be one of demanding fairness and not understanding how an employer could and would allow such a state of affairs.
To ballot members on industrial action when they were gripped with those emotions – and to have a plan of action that they can see makes sense – is a recipe for possible success. It certainly beats the normal campaign we have seen over the past years; the current NEC decides that it has to activate the members as a stage army; activists, with no warning are told that they must mobilise members, lots of material comes out in short space of time and then we ballot, get a relatively low turnout but with a firm ‘yes’ vote, take one day of action and that’s your lot (usually); the stage army is marched off and put back into its box until next needed.
If you think our way of campaigning on national pay is the right way or at least it is in a better direction than the current leaderships’ way of doing things then please vote for us in the NEC elections. A vote for Left Unity is a vote for the pay status quo.