Whilst the PCS Independent Left has many criticisms of the way the union has prepared and is preparing for the pay ballot, we will do our utmost to win the vote and get over the 50% threshold.
The objective conditions for a resounding YES vote are there of course. Civil Servants, along with the rest of the civil service have suffered years of pay freezes and pay squeezes.
Our take home pay has not kept up with inflation as a result and so many of us are worse off in real terms than in the past.
The spark this year is that the government has relaxed the pay strings for the NHS and others but not for us – as yet.
Therefore the raw material is there to work on. As always, of course the activists will bust a gut to get a vote out but PCS HQ now has to up its game drastically. If we are going to win a ballot, let alone deliver strikes, then we have to flood branches with material now. The union also must co-opt activists/members into the planning and running of the ballot campaign/strike action. We believe that it is vital.
We have argued that the union should be an enabler. Therefore PCS should be asking branches to provide text which can be worked up into local leaflets. After all branches, should know what ‘plays’ in their patch; what members are talking about and what will motivate them. National material is vital but it must be accompanied by local material. The national union has resources that local branches don’t; resources paid for by the members.
We have also argued that a rational leadership would ask each group/national branch to put forward the names of the best organisers/reps and either seek to second them (though we probably don’t have the time to arrange that, and in any case the employer would probably say no) or ask them to take unpaid special leave (which is more likely to be agreed) with the union paying them or for them to take annual/flexi leave. This would create in a short time a pool of activists who could work full time – at least for periods – on the ballot.
We have also said that the union should call upon the hundreds, if not thousands of members who are active social media users, asking them to work with the PCS to get messages out about the vote etc. This is more than just passing on what the union says, but it is members putting out their own complementary messages and also feeding back to union HQ themes, messages, ideas for the union to broadcast far and wide.
If the above ideas were adopted then we think we can smash the 50% barrier. In any case, that is what we have to do. Vote YES for strike action.