PAY HAS BEEN THE PRIMARY FOCUS of PCS this summer. While other public sector workers had the pay cap lifted and civil servants working for the Scottish government also got an above inflation rise, the UK government could not stump up the cash for their own staff.
Not content with treating PCS members like second class public servants by maintaining the de-facto 1% pay cap, ministers showed their utter contempt for us when they imposed the pay remit guidance without proper consultation. This has prompted the almost entirely unheard of situation where sister unions FDA and Prospect have joined with PCS in launching a judicial review against the Cabinet Office about the pay consultation process.
Although our pay campaign produced the biggest turnout of PCS members (41%) of any ballot we have ever conducted, and an 86% vote for strike action, our members were prevented from going on strike by draconian antitrade union laws. It can’t be right that in 2018 we are using outdated postal balloting laws first introduced in 1984.
Every other organisation uses the internet for voting but trade unions are being restricted because the Tories don’t want to make it easier to vote for industrial action!
PCS is looking into the possibility of challenging the Trade Union Act on human rights grounds, specifically on whether participation in the strike vote should be restricted to postal balloting. We will argue that by not allowing electronic balloting it is a breach of our members’ right to freedom of association under the Human Rights Act. However we will continue our pay fight at departmental/ agency level where there are over 200 sets of pay negotiations - and rebuild for another national fight next year.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has shown scant regard for the government’s own staff with glib statements and supposedly empty Treasury coffers - at least for civil service staff. We know the government has the money to pay our members properly. We also know that pay is only part of the problem. Our members face job centre closures, the roll out of the discredited Universal Credit system, the virtual destruction of the HMRC office network and courts being closed, too. With Brexit looming the civil service is massively under prepared.
The trade union movement needs to pressurise Hammond to deliver money for public services in the November budget, both to pay staff what they need and deserve - but also to repair our broken public services.
is General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union