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PCS union: break the pay cap - the fight continues!
Katrine Williams, Dave Semple and Marion Lloyd, PCS union national executive members (personal capacity)
The PCS pay strike ballot result, despite not reaching the threshold, represents a significant achievement - getting 50,726 members to vote for strike action (86%).
Thousands of our reps worked tirelessly throughout the whole ballot period. We have extended our influence into new workplaces.
It is crucial that we do not lose this momentum and use it to organise group action on pay, to stop other attacks on terms and conditions and continue to build the pay campaign for the rest of 2018 and to prepare for 2019.
The national executive committee (NEC), at its meeting on 24 July, agreed a number of actions to take the pay campaign forward. This included:
- Call upon the government to reopen negotiations on the pay remit/cap of 1-1.5%
- Seek a joint union judicial review of the lack of consultation on the Treasury pay remit
- Coordinate and support negotiators in all bargaining areas to continue to challenge the pay cap and support action
Socialist Party members on the NEC argued for a sense of urgency when it came to maintaining the momentum created during the pay ballot campaign and that it is crucial to fully consult union activists.
We must draw on their experience to work out why we didn't reach the ballot threshold, what we need to do to rectify that, and to decide on next steps.
We argued for an early special delegate conference in the autumn to take stock and determine the way forward.
Counterposed to our proposal and agreed by the NEC was an event planned for the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019.
Socialist Party PCS members are concerned that this is too late and means the NEC and senior full-time officers will make decisions without fully consulting reps and members who are responsible for delivering the ballot turnout in our workplaces.
We are concerned that if a special conference is not organised as soon as is practically possible, the pay campaign will be stalled until several months into the new year and momentum will be lost in preparing for the 2019 pay campaign.
This is especially urgent as government departments are planning to use the "flexibilities" on pay to attack terms and conditions in 2019 as they are attempting to do in Ministry of Justice.
This reinforces the need for the national union to work closely with groups to fight for our pay demands and counter this latest divide-and-rule tactic.
The main pay motion (A283) agreed at this year's conference has been overtaken by events. We need to update our mandate and believe a special delegate conference is the best way of doing this.
Socialist Party NEC members will continue to argue for the need to bring our key activists in branches together as soon as possible and for lay democracy when it comes to evaluating the recent ballot and decisions about next steps for our union and the national pay campaign.
The fight goes on
- The fight to call on the government and the other civil service unions to reopen negotiations on the pay remit (1-1.5% cap), our claim for a fully funded 5% or £1,200, and for national pay bargaining must continue
- If the government's position remains unchanged, full support to negotiators in all bargaining areas to continue to challenge the pay cap and support submissions for action, working to link up different areas of the union in action
- A special pay conference as soon as is practically possible to assess the pay situation and further develop plans for carrying forward the fight against the government's vicious and discriminatory pay cap policy
- We must learn the key lessons of the ballot result and prepare the ground for the concerted trade union fightback to defend members' interests and workers' rights
In The Socialist 8 August 2018:
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