We may well be carrying out a statutory industrial action ballot following this year’s conference later this month. And if so we can be sure that the employer will do all it can to stop the union communicating with members in the workplace.
The Tories proclaim that we live in a free society where free speech is protected – indeed sacred, but their actions in the workplace shows otherwise. Union free speech is to be attacked, not protected!
Being able to quickly communicate with as many members as possible without restriction is vital. The union therefore is making a major drive to get people to sign up to its email service. To do this though you have to a webpage and answer 10 compulsory questions out of a total of 14. What the union is really trying to do is get members to update all their contact details, including their ballot address. Whilst this is understandable from a union HQ point of view, does it make sense from ‘why are we doing this’ point of view?
If you want to receive emails, e-messages from the union why do you have to answer 10 questions, just to register your email? Why not just register your email address/mobile number?
We understand the objections. Firstly management spies may sign up. Unfortunately the employer has spies who are union members. In any case, we want the employer to know what we are saying. We are not a secret society. Then non-members might sign up. Good. The union should/would give its right organisational arm to have all non-members receive messages from the union. Again we are not a secret society or an exclusive club; we want to talk to all staff.
The best objection is that we want to make sure that the ballot address is correct. But making members answer 9 questions before they can change their ballot address does not seem to make sense.
Many web companies experiment to find the best way to maximise responses from ‘customers’; we should do the same. They key thing we are looking for is results. If one way gets more people to sign up, then let’s use that way rather set things in stone.
As far as we know, the great bulk of those voting in the consultative ballot did so by electronic means. Therefore tens of thousands of members have already shared their email addresses with us already; addresses that we can link to membership numbers and hence names. The union should therefore have been thinking of ways to contact those who didn’t vote, rather than making general calls to all members.
All this brings us to a key difference between the PCS Independent Left (IL) and the current leadership. Whilst being firm in our principles we must be flexible in how we operate. In contrast, Left Unity – the majority grouping in the PCS leadership – seem to be rigid in thought and practice. If you want a union leadership that tries to think things through rather than rigidly does the same thing again – and then again then vote IL in the NEC and DWP/HMRC GEC election.