Solidarity Magazine » PCSU Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 'Pay more, work longer, get less' remains government position Tue, 28 Jun 2011 13:00:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 27 June 2011

Speaking after today’s meeting with ministers over the government’s plans to cut public sector pensions, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“It was disappointing that the meeting proved to be no different to any of the others – it was a farce. Again the government has shown no interest in actually negotiating on any of the key principles at the heart of this dispute.

And this is a dispute that is entirely of the government’s making. We did not ask for pensions to be cut, we did not ask for public servants to be told they must work years longer and pay more for much less in retirement. Every independent analysis shows that public sector pensions are affordable now and in the future, and costs are falling in the long term.

On Thursday (30) we will see hundreds of thousands of civil and public servants on strike and, on the experience of today’s meeting and the last few months of government obstinacy, we fully expect to be joined by millions more in the autumn.”

]]> 1
Civil servants vote for strike over cuts to pensions, jobs and pay Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:25:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 15 June 2011

More than a quarter of a million civil and public servants today (15) joined teachers in voting for a strike over cuts to their pensions, as well as jobs and pay.

In a national ballot 61.1% of PCS’s quarter of a million civil and public service members voted for a strike and 83.6% voted for other forms of industrial action, on a 32.4% turnout.

Meeting this afternoon, PCS’s national executive committee confirmed the union will prepare for a strike on Thursday 30 June and will work with the National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the University and College Union to co-ordinate any action.

Unless the government does an about-turn on its plans to force public sector workers to work longer and pay more for much less pension in retirement, this first joint strike will include 750,000 public servants. And there is also a very real prospect of hundreds of thousands more workers joining the dispute later in the year.

The union says the government’s slash and burn approach to tackling the budget deficit will mean vital public services are axed, hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be thrown out of work, and those that remain will have their pay and pensions cut.

Ministers have fixed the terms of negotiations over public sector pensions to seriously undermine the possibility of an agreement being reached. They also admit that money cut from pensions will go to the Treasury to help pay off the deficit, not into pension schemes, which the union says amounts to a tax on working in the public sector.

They have accepted Lord Hutton’s proposals – which mean members of civil service pension schemes face a doubling or tripling of their contributions as well as having to work longer for less pension – and have ruled out any negotiations on their decision to use the CPI measure of inflation to uprate pensions instead of RPI.

The government is sticking to its proposals despite the National Audit Office, Lord Hutton himself and most recently the Commons public accounts committee confirming public sector pensions are affordable now and sustainable in future.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“This result shows that public servants, who provide vital services from the cradle to the grave, will not stand back while everything they have ever worked for is taken from them.

The government admits that money cut from pensions will go straight to the Treasury to help pay off the deficit in what is nothing more than a tax on working in the public sector. The very modest pay and pensions of public servants did not cause the recession, so they should not be blamed or punished for it.

Unless ministers abandon their ideological plans to hollow out the public sector, they will face industrial action on a mass scale on 30 June and beyond.”

]]> 0
PCS and Unite take first action on equalities body Tue, 07 Jun 2011 11:05:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 6 June 2011 PCS, the largest civil service union and Unite, the largest trade union in Britain and Ireland, are taking their first joint action today to save the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

More than 350 PCS and Unite members who work at the EHRC will be walking out of their offices in Manchester, London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow between 11.30am-12.30pm today (Monday, 6 June). The two unions signed a joint agreement to work together two weeks ago.

The commission wants to more than halve its staff from 460 to 200 within 12 months while retaining many consultants and short term contractors who collectively cost over £6 million a year. The decision is being made to retain these hugely expensive non permanent staff and consultants who specialise in, for example, media relations and PR, while cutting those on the lowest wages who provide direct advice and assistance to members of the public. The commission faces a cut of 68% to its budget compared with that in 2007, when it was first formed.

The government has already announced it is ending the commission’s grant giving function which helps charities, disability groups and community organisations, and it is withdrawing funding for the EHRC’s helpline and a tendering exercise starts in July. The helpline, which received most contacts from disabled people seeking assistance, will not be a continuation of the current service as the government has said it will be a non legal information service, therefore losing its teeth. In addition, regional offices are to be shut and local expertise therefore lost. There has been no attempt by the EHRC to settle and the unions are seeking a meeting with the board. PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka said: “A meeting is urgently needed. We are on the edge of losing our only independent equality and human rights body at the time it is most needed. The commission is in effect being dissolved, not dismantled. We cannot put it back together once the expertise is lost, budget axed and remit cut.” Find out more at

]]> 0
PCS and Unite – together for the alternative Fri, 20 May 2011 15:12:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 20 May 2011


Len McCluskey – leader of the million member Unite trade union – was given a standing ovation after speaking to the PCS annual conference this morniong (Friday 20 May).

The two unions have signed an understanding to work together to fight the cuts.

Here is the full text of the agreement:

Working together to fight the cuts and to unite workers with the communities they support


PCS and Unite are committed to working together to fight the vicious and unnecessary cuts being imposed by Government. We believe these cuts to be ideologically driven in the pursuit of ‘free market objectives’ and the wholesale privatisation of social and welfare services. The impact of these cuts on working people and the communities in which we live will be devastating with the most vulnerable facing a relentless attack on their dignity and social standing.


We are committed to a sustainable and positive economic alternative based on; a fair and sustainable redistribution of the tax burden, the closure of tax avoidance loopholes and evasion opportunities. We are committed to growing our economy; investing in jobs, training, our public services and national infrastructure as well as promoting our manufacturing industries and developing green technologies. This will involve campaigning, co-ordinating and, where possible, taking action in unity and support of each other.


In freezing pay, slashing jobs and attacking pensions the Government is seeking to make working people and those who rely on public services pay for a deficit caused by wholly irresponsible gambling by a minority in the finance sector – whose benefits, bonuses and tax concessions remain largely unchanged.


There is an alternative

The cuts to welfare entitlements and public services will be detrimental to the vulnerable, to the quality of service provided and to the economy. There is an alternative:

  • Protect and create jobs to secure the economic recovery
  • Invest now; supporting our manufacturing sector, public services and communities
  • Tax the banks, big business and the super-rich, with a crackdown on evasion and avoidance
  • End wasteful spending on consultants, agency staff and the costs of privatisation
  • Support collective trade union rights; protecting workers and their families and redistributing wealth across our society
  • Involve workers, unions, service-users and communities in developing an alternative agenda for a sustainable economy and fairer society.


What we will do together

At national level PCS and Unite will establish a liaison group of senior lay and full time officers to promote joint activity and co-ordinate our joint campaign. This liaison group will co-ordinate our approach to TUC campaign activity and will promote, build and co-ordinate alliances with other unions and action groups, and co-operation in terms of a communications and media strategy, including press releases, leaflets and shared resources.


To highlight the alternative, PCS and Unite will work with others to organise a “There is an Alternative” event, bringing together trade unionists, politicians, academics, voluntary and community groups. The aim will be to raise awareness of our alternative economic strategy and develop a broad coalition to fight the cuts.


At regional level the unions will develop practical ways of supporting joint campaigns. This will include twinning officers and organisers, developing regional campaign teams, regional events and road shows, and links with voluntary and community groups. The aim will be to build and support regional alliances.


At local level we will develop and support links between members and activists. This will include joint workplace meetings, public leafleting, locally organised town meetings and joint community activities.


United we stand

The Government’s cuts agenda will devastate public services and undermine the fabric of the welfare state.


Working together close to two million union members will be united to fight the cuts. Working together we can present our economic alternative to the Coalition cuts agenda in the communities we live and work in.


Mark Serwotka PCS general secretary Len McCluskey Unite general secretary

Janice Godrich PCS president Tony Woodhouse chair of Unite executive council


]]> 0
Coastguard climbdown is a 'body blow' for government – Mark Serwotka Fri, 20 May 2011 10:24:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 19 May 2011

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka has described the apparent climbdown over coastguard cuts as a “body blow” for the government and further evidence of what can be achieved by community campaigning.

Speaking as the union meets in Brighton for its annual conference, and a day after delegates voted to ballot a quarter of a million civil and public servants for a strike over cuts to jobs, pensions and pay, Mark said:

“This is a body blow for the government which is reeling from the force of public outrage at ill-thought out plans to slash the life-saving support that coastguards provide.

It is not yet clear what any new proposals will include and there are still battles to be won to maintain vital local services that our members provide 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We would expect new plans to be subject to proper consultation and negotiation.

The campaign against these cuts has been inspirational and I am proud of the part our reps and members have played in it. Now is the time to keep up the pressure and show the government we remain united, strong and determined to defeat these cuts.”

]]> 0
PCS conference: A quarter of a million public servants to ballot for strike Fri, 20 May 2011 09:23:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 18 May 2011

More than a quarter of a million civil and public servants will ballot for a strike over cuts to pensions, jobs and pay, following an overwhelming vote at the Public and Commercial Services union annual conference.

Ballot papers will be issued from next week and the ballot will close mid-June, with the first action possible later that month. The union is working closely with education unions who are also balloting over pensions or have already voted and taken strike action, bringing the total to 750,000 union members.

Delegates speaking in the debate talked about how the coalition government’s policies are wreaking havoc on their livelihoods, their families and their communities, and pledged their commitment to campaign against all cuts.

The government’s slash and burn approach to tackling the budget deficit will throw hundreds of thousands of public sector workers out of work, impose a pay freeze on those that remain, axe vital public services, and undermine hard-won rights such as pensions and redundancy terms.

The government has already made it clear it will implement Lord Hutton’s proposals on public sector pensions, meaning civil and public servants will pay higher contributions and work longer for a lower pension.

The union wants: no detrimental changes to pensions or the civil service redundancy scheme; a strengthening of the Cabinet Office-agreed measures to avoid compulsory redundancies; and an end to the pay freeze and a fair pay rise for all.

The conference agreed to: hold a national ballot in defence of jobs, pensions and pay; and continue to work with other trade unions to co-ordinate action for maximum impact.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“Everything we have ever worked for is under threat – but we know there is an alternative and we are committed to fighting for it and, if necessary, striking for it.

The economic crisis was not caused by our members’ jobs, pensions or pay and it is shameful and wrong that the coalition government is attempting to scapegoat them in its bid to slash and burn the welfare state.”

]]> 0
Benefit office closures 'deeply flawed' as unemployment will rise Fri, 13 May 2011 18:18:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 13 May 2011


The decision by Jobcentre Plus to close one fifth of its benefit processing offices and call centres has been branded “deeply flawed and dangerous” by PCS.

The announcement today that 17 benefit processing sites and five contact centres will be shut mostly within 12 months, threatening 2,400 jobs, comes at a time when hundreds of thousands public sector workers are expected to lose their jobs, with an anticipated similar knock-on effect in the private sector.

Jobcentre Plus has already cut more than 10,000 staff since 2009 and this latest decision will mean more delays in processing claims.

This comes as ministers are reviewing the jobcentre network as a whole and the union fears there is a risk they will decide to close more jobcentres, particularly in rural areas.

An Office for Budget Responsibility report prepared for the budget in March forecast unemployment will be higher throughout 2012 than it was at the beginning of this year.

Delegates to the union’s Department for Work and Pensions group conference – to be held on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 May, before PCS’s annual conference which opens the following day – will debate an emergency motion to launch a campaign against the closures.

The first motion to be debated at PCS’s national conference calls for a national strike ballot over cuts to jobs, pay and pensions, and for the union to “work with other trade unions to co-ordinate the action for maximum impact”.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“This is a deeply flawed and dangerous plan that will remove vital support to jobseekers and people claiming welfare at precisely the time the government’s ideological cuts will throw more people out of work.

Instead of cutting jobs, the government should be investing in public services like these to help get people back to work more quickly and help our economy to get back on track.”

]]> 0
PCS executive strike action motion Fri, 13 May 2011 17:13:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> This is a PCS Executive Committee emergency resolution which will be put to the PCS conference next week

PCS and other public sector trade unions are working together to defend jobs, pensions and pay.If government negotiators won’t back down the unions are preparing to respond with co-ordinated strike action.  PCS’s national executive has agreed to put the following emergency motion to the union’s ruling delegate conference in May:

Conference condemns the policies of the coalition government which are designed to cut hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs, cut services, attack public sector workers’ pensions, and which have imposed a two-year pay freeze.

Conference further condemns the proposed redundancies that have been recently announced in a number of areas and believes they could have been avoided.

Conference notes that the government has already made it clear that it will implement the Hutton proposals meaning members will pay higher contributions and work longer for a lower pension.

Conference believes that it was not the jobs, pensions or pay of public sector workers which caused the economic crisis and rejects the coalition government’s attempts to scapegoat public services.

Conference welcomes the recommendation of the April NEC for a national ballot for discontinuous strike action and for discontinuous action short of a strike. Conference further welcomes the ongoing talks with the education unions for joint action involving hundreds of thousands of public sector workers.

Conference therefore instructs the incoming NEC to:

Proceed with a national ballot in defence of jobs, pensions and pay
• Continue to work with other trade unions to co-ordinate the action for maximum impact.

Conference therefore urges all members and activists to prioritise mobilising for a ‘yes, yes’ vote.

PCS branches will be debating the resolution at meetings before the conference.  All PCS members are urged to attend and join the discussion – your idea could be the one that wins the dispute.

]]> 0
On the picket line in Halifax Mon, 18 Apr 2011 15:14:52 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 18 April 2011


History was made today with a first ever picket line at Halifax Jobcentre Plus call centre.That means all 37 centres on strike had a picket line outside.  Despite the loss of a day’s pay PCS lead rep Andy Lucas was in a buoyant mood as he worked hard to increase the numbers striking.

As a crisis loan decision maker he’s experienced worsening conditions since he commenced employment six years ago.

Andy said: “New technology has been employed to set unrealistic times for staff to try and resolve what are often complex problems. The result is, of course, a poorer service for customers. Frustrated, many staff leave and the annual turnover is touching 40%.”

His colleague and fellow PCS rep David Lowry had previously worked in call centres in various parts of the world before starting in Halifax three years ago.

Employees are treated like battery hens. When I started you had an average of 22 minutes to deal with each call, but that was cut to just 17 minutes and 40 seconds

He had no doubt he was doing the right thing in joining the 90% of 180 PCS members, amongst the overall total of 280 workers, out on strike as: “Employees are treated like battery hens. When I started you had an average of 22 minutes to deal with each call, but that was cut to just 17 minutes and 40 seconds.

Unable to cope staff would put down the phone on customers for fear of exceeding the limits for dealing with calls. And yet these are people in crisis such as single mothers with children without food, gas or heating. Staff don’t want to let them down.”

Ensuring that’s the case has become more difficult, as despite “entering negotiations with the honest intention of resolving the problems” management have chosen to cut average times by a further minute reported fellow picket Jane Aitchison, the group president of PCS in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – which includes Jobcentres.

Jane’s convinced those in charge have got it wrong. She reports that wouldn’t be the first time as prior to the ballot “management appeared to believe people wouldn’t vote for action. Then when we won the ballot I think they thought we wouldn’t call it for fear of people not responding.

Today’s events at what has previously been one of the less well organised Jobcentre Plus centres demonstrates that management need to adopt a very different approach. We look forward to them doing so.”

]]> 0
Strong vote for action against HMRC sick policy Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:59:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 13 April 2011

Members of PCS in HM Revenue and Customs have voted convincingly to take industrial action in opposition to a new policy on managing sickness.

In a ballot of more than 50,000 members, there was a good turnout of 41%, with 59% supporting strike action and 84% in favour of industrial action short of a strike.

The union is committed to trying to negotiate a settlement to the dispute and meetings are scheduled in the coming days.

PCS revenue and customs group secretary Peter Lockhart said:

“This was a very good response to a ballot and, coupled with the clear vote in favour of action, it shows how strongly our members feel.

We hope senior managers will now agree that trying to impose draconian new policies on their workforce is not the way forward, and we hope they will come back to the table with a willingness to resolve this dispute.”

]]> 0