England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

PCS Conference: Fight to transform our union!

By PCS members in Socialist Alternative

PCS’s Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) takes place in Brighton between 21 and 23 May, and PCS members will be discussing how the union moves forward on pay following the result of the industrial action ballot on pay. As this article goes to print the ballot is ongoing, and Socialist Alternative members are pushing for a Yes vote and for a real strategy to win on pay.

We explained in a Socialist Alternative leaflet distributed to civil service workplaces:

“Our members will fight for as big a turnout as possible, because we recognise pay is crucial to our low-paid members. But members are also saying they are being asked to do more with fewer staff, so it is clear our demands need to go wider.

It is disappointing to see the current leadership has not included demands for the recruitment of more staff in the national campaign. Suggested cuts to tens of thousands of civil service jobs, with cuts to departmental funding further adding to the risk to jobs we need to stand against.

PCS members recognise that we need more staff in all our departments, and yet demands over staffing appear to be put to one side. Staffing campaigns cannot simply be lobbying campaigns like we have seen in the DWP group, but need to be fought for with real and sustained industrial action.”

As we have outlined previously, the national leadership massively sold out members in 2023. When a new six-month mandate had just been won, further action could have been called to put pressure on the government to deliver on the union’s demands. Instead, they called off industrial action and accepted a real-terms pay cut plus a one-off, non-consolidated, non-pensionable, discriminatory £1,500.

Our members will be opposing the NEC’s self congratulatory motion A1 whilst our members still suffer low pay, tens of thousands of whom still remain on the minimum wage thanks to over a decade of below inflation pay “rises” and leadership endorsed multi-year pay deals which sold off our terms and conditions in return for poverty pay.

Delegates will also be discussing the government’s attacks on hybrid working, vast numbers of civil servants have worked consistently and productively from home since before Covid, and demands for blanket return to an office will do nothing for the service provided by civil servants. We believe the leadership should have included demands over opposing blanket policies on office working in the National Campaign, and we will be supporting A3 which calls for this.

We also expect there will be emergency motions on cuts to civil service jobs. In 2022 Boris Johnson called for cuts to 91,000 civil service jobs, 66,000 proposed by Jeremy Hunt, and Grant Shapps now proposes cuts to 77,000 civil service jobs to fund defence spending. Whilst the union should be reactive in campaigning against these cuts, we need to actively campaign for more staff. The staffing levels in workplaces is already stretched thin, workplace pressures are immense, backlogs remain, and staff face high levels of stress.

In the elections to the NEC which will conclude just before the ADC, we are standing Liat Norris as part of the left slate, to provide an alternative to the current leadership. As well as a fighting programme on pay and action, we point out that:

“Vitriol is spilled against migrants and LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans people, using well-worn divide and rule tactics. These attacks fundamentally harm all workers, but unfortunately, some of this hostile rhetoric has found its way into our movement. PCS has long-standing policy supporting trans rights, but past rhetoric of leading elected officials has not always reflected this. These false divisions let the real enemies off the hook. Our movement gains nothing by echoing this. We need to fight it.”

We will be supporting any motions that strengthen the fight against war, build a united movement for LGBTQ+ liberation and help build a fighting union. 

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