The Left Unity NC would like to thank reps and members for the huge effort that went in to help deliver a massive vote for strike action in the pay ballot; 87% of those who voted supported strike action to break the pay cap and in support of our pay claim of a 5% (or £1200) and for central bargaining arrangements.
Despite winning a massive majority for industrial action the turnout fell short of the 50% needed to meet the threshold required by the undemocratic anti-trade union laws. In total 59,254 members voted which amounted to 41.6%. This is very disappointing for our reps and members who worked so hard during the ballot but it is only a temporary set back. The Government will not be able to ignore this ballot result and the huge support for strike action. This is especially true for a Government that received the votes of only 28% of the electorate to gain power and is propped up by the reactionary DUP.
Despite all the obstacles put in our path such as cuts to facility time, the removal of checkoff and draconian legislation aimed at crushing trade union and democratic rights the Government cannot hold back indefinitely the immense anger our members feel about pay and all the other attacks on jobs, terms and conditions.
The level of union activity over the ballot period shows the willingness of members to support their union. There have been pay protests, carpark and street meetings, mass leafleting sessions at workplaces all over the UK. We have many more members active in our union now than before the ballot and 1700 new members.
Left Unity has a key role to play in explaining why, on this occasion, we didn’t reach the 50% threshold, but also where we go from here. The union is stronger than before the ballot, which means we catch our breath, but quickly get on, to train and work alongside our new reps and advocates to build union strength in the workplaces which need support so that we meet the threshold next time around.
The union’s National Executive Committee has met and discussed where we go from here. Crucial to this is bringing members together to discuss and prepare the next stage of our pay campaign. We cannot lose the momentum created over the last few months and the high level of member involvement in union activity. There will be battles in groups over pay as each department attempts to impose the 1 – 1.5% pay cap once again or awards slightly higher than this but in return wants to make cuts to jobs, terms and conditions. Left Unity will use its influence in the union to ensure we hold the line in all groups for our pay demands and give support to those parts of the union prepared to fight the pay cap and link these areas in joint industrial action where we can.
PCS and the other civil service unions must demand the Government re-opens negotiations on the pay remit. PCS must continue to fight for our claim of 5% or £1,200 and for central bargaining arrangements. We support the move for a judicial review of the governments pay remit agreed by all the civil service unions as an important part of the campaign. But crucial to how we go forward from here is to build on the work done during the ballot to strengthen our union. The fight goes on to win pay justice for all our members.