National pay campaign has the wrong focus

We welcome the fact that there is a national pay campaign – unfortunately it is wanting in many ways. In a later post (in a few days time) we will set out how we would run such a campaign but in the here and now we say that the main demand should not be for a pay increase of 5% or £1,200 – whichever is the greater – but for equal pay and with 5% etc then added on.

Now it is true that equal pay is mentioned in the pay claim sent to the Government but only at the very end and with little fanfare.

If the Civil Service does take our claim seriously then it will be clear to them that equal pay is not important; that if it was, it would be the lead and right at the front.

Yet campaigning for equal pay is the one thing that would unite the bulk of the membership.

We have for years argued that publishing, again and again, in as many imaginative ways as possible, the variations in pay rates of each grade in each department would galvanise members as they will see that if they at AO, EO etc they are paid much less than others at the same grade elsewhere. The pay fight then becomes one of fairness and for equal pay; two powerful slogans to campaign behind.

The pay differences at various grades are greater in many cases than £1,200 or 5% (the union’s claim). We think it is much easier to mobilise members to fight for something that already exists at their grade in another department than for a number (if they have it, why can’t we).

Even if we were to win 5% or £1,200 then unequal pay would in fact become worse in the civil service (5% of something is better than 5% of little).

If our slate were elected onto the NEC, then we would argue for equal pay plus an add on. If you want equal pay for all in the civil service, if you think fighting for pay fairness is a more powerful way of mobilising members than fighting for a number then please vote for us.

Our NEC slate is:

President       

Bev Laidlaw (DWP)

Vice Presidents

Tom Bishell (DWP)

Bryan Carlsen (HSE)

Phil Dickens (HMRC)

John Moloney (DfT)

NEC

Tom Bishell (DWP)

Bryan Carlsen (HSE)

Ralph Corrigan (PsG)

Phil Dickens (HMRC)

Chris Hickey (CLG)

Karen Johnson (CLG)

Bev Laidlaw (DWP)

Chris Marks (DWP)

Charlie McDonald (DWP)

John Moloney (DfT)

Oli Rahman (DWP)

Paulette Romain (CLG)

Leon Searle (DWP)

George Thompson (DWP)

Ray Webb (DSA)

Gilaine Young (DfT)

 

 

 

Will DWP be part of the national pay campaign?

A recent DWP Group bulletin on national pay essentially says, the employee Deal stops most of us from getting involved, but we still have a claim for our SEO/G7 and G6 members.  This means then that the vast bulk of members in the DWP will not be involved in the national pay campaign.

Now if that is not the case then we call on the LU leadership, who run the DWP GEC, to issue an immediate ‘corrective’ bulletin saying that they are in fact joining with the rest of the union.

Taking into account the current and forecast inflation rates, which the union has published as part of the ‘Pay Up’ campaign, the union negotiated 0.25% pay ‘offer’ to those opting-out in the DWP now means those staff (who number in the thousands) will see a very steep cut in their living standards.

In the ‘Pay Up’ material the union says ‘…the union has launched a new pay campaign to fight for a rise of more than 1%.

Given that the ‘opt outs’ will only get 0.25%, but the union wants all members to get more than 1%, will the DWP pay-team now recommend pulling-out of the Employee Deal on the basis it doesn’t deliver the 1% plus to all members?

If it doesn’t, or at least doesn’t ask for the Employee Deal to be re-opened to take account of the demands of the national pay campaign then that union wide campaign is undermined, perhaps fatally.

The irony of course is that many of the leading lights in the DWP leadership are leading lights in the national union as well. Therefore they agree a national campaign at the NEC but go to the DWP GEC and in essence kill that campaign dead in that department.

We are clear that the Employee Deal is poor and the union should demand that it be re-negotiated; also that all parts of the DWP should take part in national pay activities. If you think the same way then please vote for IL candidates both for the NEC but also in the GEC elections as well. Don’t condemn the ‘opts outs’ to the lowest pay rises in the entire civil service!

Not acceptable – then why stand?

“The DWP headcount staffing figure at the end of February was 83,933. The PCS DWP membership figure at the end of February was 49,996. Our membership density is therefore currently 59.56%.

This is the lowest PCS membership density figure in the DWP for many years. There are 34,000 non-union members in the DWP. This level of union membership density is not acceptable. It is a threat to the strength of the union.”

So says the DWP Group Organiser who will be seeking re-election in the next couple of weeks.

Whilst that person cannot take the full blame for this fall in membership, obviously though they share some of the blame – unless they are going to claim that the Group Organiser post is meaningless and whoever is in that role can make no difference – which we don’t imagine they will.

That being the case they should at least admit that the falloff membership happened under the current Left Unity leadership of the DWP Group. Again it would be too mechanical just to wholly blame this leadership for what their own comrade calls a ‘level of union membership density’ that ‘is not acceptable; one which ‘is a threat to the strength of the union’, but they must take a fair share of the blame. We certainly know that if the IL were in charge, we would be wholly blamed for the fall in membership.

Of course the DWP leadership will never own up. LU now find it impossible to crucially self examine their actions and inactions. Without that honesty then it is not possible to address the real problems that face us in the DWP and in the rest of the union.

The IL is standing in DWP and the wider union on the platform of ‘no spin’ and being honest with the members in little things as well as large. If you want a DWP leadership that tries to tell it as it is, in contrast to one that never admits mistakes then please vote for us in the DWP.

Our DWP slate is:

President:Chris Marks

Vice President: Tom Bishell

Organiser:  Charlie McDonald

Group Asst Secretaries: : Bev Laidlaw, Declan Power, George Thompson

Journal Editor:  Nick Diamantis

Group Treasurer Jason Lansbury

GEC: Tom Bishell, Nick Diamantis, Gerry Hyde, Bev Laidlaw, Jason Lansbury, Charlie McDonald, John Mahoney, Chris Marks, Robin Nicholl, Jenny Pollard, Declan Power, George Thompson

Lessons of the HMRC Cleaners Dispute

16976654_1037896073021135_1126609918_nIt’s now over a year since cleaners employed by ISS to clean HMRC offices in Bootle approached their union reps over cuts to their working hours. Their employer was facing an increase in their pay bill due to a new minimum wage rate, erroneously branded as the ‘national living wage.’ It was going to claim that money back by cutting enough hours so cleaners were left with the same pay as before the rise came in.

The cuts were defeated, and cleaners across Merseyside had their hours restored thanks to a campaign which saw members take two days of action and threatened a further three. It was a strong campaign which won a decisive victory, and it is worth looking at the lessons that we can learn from that.

Firstly, it is worth emphasising that this was not a victory for the Independent Left. One of our members was involved in the campaign from the very beginning, but he will be the first to admit that he was one among many – the vast majority having no factional alignment within the union, and the most important of those of course being the cleaners themselves. We make this point because Left Unity have, in some of their literature, tried to claim the victory as their own. Not only is this a distortion of the facts of the dispute, but it underlines how different our approaches are.

Those of us in the Independent Left and our non-factional allies don’t simply have a different perspective on what positions the union’s leadership should take – although we do have many. We believe in a fundamentally different attitude to how a union should organise, behave and fight.

The example of the HMRC cleaners dispute is just one real-life articulation of this difference.

Member-led disputes – At all stages, the campaign against ISS was led by the membership on the ground. Decisions were taken by vote at meetings which all members could attend and the majority did. Not only does this approach mean that such a campaign is genuinely democratic, but it puts into practice the old axiom that members are the union rather than treating them as chess pieces.

No secret talks – When the members’ action eventually forced ISS to talk to PCS, there was absolutely no consideration of those talks being ‘in confidence’ from the members they were about. In fact, the only reason the decision was taken not to have cleaners attend the talks was to avoid the threat of reprisals by the company. The three reps who did take part provided full reports back to the membership at all points.

No back-room deals – When a deal was finally brokered to call off the strike, it was the members who made the decision to accept. Not as a result of carefully steered meetings where the ‘debate’ amounted to questions for a speaker presenting a particular line, but following a vigorous debate amongst the members and a show of hands vote.

 Building leverage through direct action – ISS talked to PCS only when forced to. They still don’t recognise the union. By involving all of the members in collective action, culminating in strikes, the union leveraged real moral, political and industrial pressure on the employer. This sort of organising will always have more power than relying on the supposed wiliness of negotiators treating industrial relations as a chess game rather than a power struggle.

While the structural support of the union was helpful, the members organising democratically from below was the strength and power of the campaign. This was even the case where union support was concerned, as while the Merseyside branches fully supported their members the machinery of PCS was more reluctant until the campaign had too much traction to be ignored.

PCS Independent Left believes that all of our organising should take this form. We shouldn’t have to fight for the support of our own union, and the ISS dispute is unfortunately not unique in this regard with a PCS led by Left Unity, but we are better placed to win that fight where members have the confidence to lead from the front.

Building this sort of confidence involves a lot of hard work and organising at branch level, which is already being done in many places. But it is emboldened with voices arguing in support of such an approach at Group Executive Committee level.

Two of our members are up for re-election to the HMRC GEC and trying to provide such a voice. We would urge that you support them in the Group elections – Phil Dickens and Phil Millar.

 

DWP GEC Nominations

bt_elections_ahead_signYes its that time of year again, so much has happened since the 2016 DWP GEC Elections – and not for the better. We want to change that. The Employee Deal was introduced, a new flexi policy, the dreaded ‘tent poles’ and Team Preference Tool and finally the Office Closures and re-locations.

IL members that were elected on to the GEC last year (including VP) were opposed to the Employee Deal, mainly due to the unfairness and discriminatory elements. This is amongst what we have been doing since you elected us into those positions.

  • Voted in favour of UC Service Centre members taking action over Xmas leave.
  • Voted for branches to be informed of office closures immediately as soon as PCS were informed.
  • Opposing the Tent Poles, Team Preference Tool and the percentages imposed by management.
  • Voting against the new Flexi policy as although some improvements were made for some, there were also detriments for others that we believe could have been improved upon.
  • Voting against a secrecy clause in the GEC, inhibiting us from informing members what has been debated on and the contributions made by individuals.
  • Made amendments to motions – including the GEC motion on office closures to ensure those members in the private sector (Security/Guards) are to be included in any dispute.

Independent Left supporters have consistently argued for the GEC to reconnect with, and strengthen the confidence of, members by:

-Focusing on a Group Campaign on Offices closures. Local offices should not be left on their own to fight. We really are ‘all in it together’ and so we should really all campaign and fight together;
-Campaigning for equal pay. We have argued for legal advice to be obtained as the Equality data shows that women and part time workers have been disproportionately affected by the Employee Deal;
-Having an effective industrial action strategy, including selective action. This is in place of one day strikes now and then that the government simply sits out;
-Telling the truth, even when it means admitting that we have lost; thoroughly consulting members on demands, strategy and tactics and providing timely and informative reports on national talks;
-Developing a real and effective organising strategy, one aimed at transforming the union from the ground up. If you agree with us please nominate the following IL and Independent members at your AGM:

President:Chris Marks

Vice President: Tom Bishell

Organiser:  Charlie McDonald

Group Asst Secretaries: : Bev Laidlaw, Declan Power, George Thompson

Journal Editor:  Nick Diamantis

Group Treasurer Jason Lansbury

GEC: Tom Bishell, Nick Diamantis, Gerry Hyde, Bev Laidlaw, Jason Lansbury, Charlie McDonald, John Mahoney, Chris Marks, Robin Nicholl, Jenny Pollard, Declan Power, George Thompson

PCS NEC elections 2017

The nomination process for the NEC elections begins soonelections-graphic-hands

We are asking that you consider nominating Independent Left (IL) candidates for the elections. This is because we believe IL will bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the leadership of PCS; both of which are sorely lacking at the moment.

The current leadership have been in office for over 11 years. Unfortunately we are now in far worse state than when they first took office.  Clearly the Government is responsible for the attacks we face but the PCS leadership is responsible for how we respond – and their response has been woefully inadequate with no evidence that it will get better.  Indeed their motto is ‘stick with us, a tried and trusted leadership’. Which means in reality more of the same. In fact they are a tired and busted leadership.

Independent Left supporters have consistently argued for the NEC to reconnect with, and strengthen the confidence of, members by:

-Focusing on a national defence of pay, jobs and living standards.  Local offices and departments should not be left on their own to fight. We really are ‘all in it together’ and so we should really all campaign and fight together;

-Campaigning for equal pay across the Civil Service.  It shouldn’t depend on where you work as to how much you should earn.  An EO in DWP should get as much as an EO in HMRC as an EO in DfT etc. This means we must campaign for national pay;

-Having an effective industrial action strategy, including selective action.  This is in place of one day strikes now and then that the Government simply sits out;

-Telling the truth, even when it means admitting that we have lost; thoroughly consulting members on demands, strategy and tactics and providing timely and informative reports on national talks.

-Having a meaningful national strategy to unionise those private sector companies providing support to the civil service;

-Developing a real and effective organising strategy, one aimed at transforming the union from the ground up.

If the above makes sense to you then please nominate:

President       

Bev Laidlaw (DWP)

Vice Presidents

Tom Bishell (DWP)

Bryan Carlsen (HSE)

Phil Dickens (HMRC)

John Moloney (DfT)

NEC

Tom Bishell (DWP)

Bryan Carlsen (HSE)

Ralph Corrigan (PsG)

Phil Dickens (HMRC)

Chris Hickey (CLG)

Karen Johnson (CLG)

Bev Laidlaw (DWP)

Chris Marks (DWP)

Charlie McDonald (DWP)

John Moloney (DfT)

Oli Rahman (DWP)

Paulette Romain (CLG)

Leon Searle (DWP)

George Thompson (DWP)

Ray Webb (DSA)

Gilaine Young (DfT)