Left Unity victory in NEC elections, now win the Group elections

12998685_10154193975039797_3097030845266023389_nThe Democracy Alliance in which Left Unity plays the leading part has beenn re-elected once again to defend and represent PCS members who are in the front-line of the Tories austerity policies. Can we take this opportunity
to thank all comrades for all their hard work during the election period to secure this result including getting Janice Godrich re-elected as President for the fourteenth time, a tremendous achievement.

Janice and the Democracy Alliance national executive committee will continue to work with general secretary Mark Serwotka to build the fight-back against austerity policies and will continue to demand other public sector unions and the TUC build the type of coordinated campaigns and action that can defend our terms, conditions and services. PCS have survived an attempt to smash our union but we not only survived but are growing stronger – a testament to a campaigning socialist leadership.

It is significant that there was no organised right-wing presence in the national elections this year which is a result of their complete failure to offer a serious alternative to the union’s campaigning leadership. Those who did stand against the leadership did so on the basis of attacking the union leadership and not the Tories for the attacks on members terms and conditions, and offering only a strategy of selective action i.e., paying small groups of members’ to take action for everyone else, and using the legal system. By selling the idea there are easy ways to defend our members’ interests in this period of unrelenting attacks is totally irresponsible and plain populist opportunism.

The Democracy Alliance will continue to prioritise the strength of our union at workplace level to ensure that when action is taken it is effective, deliverable and sustainable.

Group elections are still in progress and Left Unity urges members to vote for a fighting socialist leadership there too.

Gordon Rowntree
National Secretary

Posted in Elections

PCS DWP Group Executive recommends acceptance of pay offer

PCS demoPCS DWP Group Executive recommends acceptance of pay offer

The context for the DWP Pay Deal includes years of public sector pay freezes that have depressed members’ living standards. We operate in a very hostile industrial environment, in large part because of the failure of other union leaderships and the TUC itself to fight back against cuts, privatisation and pay freezes. The Tories have launched vicious attacks on PCS for fighting back against austerity and no single group of workers in our movement has fought back more consistently and determinedly than those in DWP. This resulted in the withdrawal of the check-off facility and an attempt to bankrupt and smash the union. The PCS leadership under Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich fought off this attack and has emerged stronger and more determined than ever. But significant work must still be done to build up membership and density levels throughout PCS, including in the DWP group itself.

PCS has been campaigning hard against austerity for many years including the public sector pay freeze. We have argued that the best way to defeat the pay freeze is to build joint coordinated action across the public sector but despite this being official TUC policy, they and some other key unions have failed to build this action. While continuing to press this demand PCS in government department groups is campaigning hard to get settlements that will improve our members’ wages wherever possible. In the PCS Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Group this meant campaigning, including a letter writing initiative to MPs which resulted in a debate in Parliament that exposed the disgrace of low pay in the department – 40% of staff receive benefits to top up their wages – and led to management offering negotiations.

PCS has put DWP management under considerable pressure to resolve low pay and the pay differentials between DWP and other government departments which resulted from the Tories abolition of national civil service pay bargaining in the mid 90s. DWP got permission from the Treasury for pay flexibility to breach the 1% pay cap that would mean “substantial” increases to 60% of the lowest paid DWP staff but linked to contractual changes which would allow an increase in areas which open to the public in the evening and Saturday. There is no doubt management aim to bring in these changes anyway to deal, in their view, with the changing nature of the business. PCS does not accept these changes should be linked to the issue of pay however walking away from negotiations in which management had linked these issues was never a serious alternative and would inevitably led to their imposition with no gains in terms of pay or protections around their implementation.

PCS group negotiators have been involved in lengthy talks to discuss pay and management’s plans for opening hours which has resulted in an offer which our members will have the final vote on whether to accept in June.

The PCS DWP GEC discussed the full offer at length and on balance took the decision to recommend the offer to members because of the safeguards that have been negotiated in terms of contractual changes and the large amounts of money available for the lowest paid at each grade in scope, whose pay has been held down for many years. It is clear that the offer means different things to different people and has the potential to divide our members. In such difficult circumstances any union is duty bound to gain as much as it can to improve living standards for its most poorly paid members and protect as much as it can in terms of changes to conditions and build the campaign to win further concessions.

The pay part of the offer means that all members in the first 4 grades in the DWP will be on or make significant progress towards a single spot rate of pay by 2019 – fulfilling a longstanding PCS demand for the rate for the job for each grade. This addresses the significant problems that have existed over pay progression where the majority of our members have not progressed through the pay scales for years since the Labour government introduced pay restraint. The spot rates are set at a level with other government departments which addresses the issue of lower pay in the DWP where members in different government departments doing similar jobs can have a difference in pay of £1000s. Over half of our members would receive a pay rise of 10 -21.6% over the next 4 years. We recognise that we were unable to negotiate a similar pay rise for those members on the max of their payscale, but all members receive more than 1% each year in this offer. The discriminatory and discredited bonuses would also be almost wiped out by this pay offer by year 4 by putting money into the consolidated pay and benefiting all members which has been a long-standing PCS demand.

If the new National Living wage continues at the current projected figures, which have the caveat of being a target subject to sustained economic growth, then this will significantly catch up to the rate for pay in the AA grade by April 2020. PCS is determined to fight for pay increases above the national minimum expectation and will use the fact 93% of our members will be on the single rate of pay to pursue further increases in 2020. We will also seek to move the remainder of staff, who have been prevented by Treasury restrictions on individuals’ annual pay increase, onto the rate for the job – i.e. the maximum for each grade. The increases to the spot rates will be guaranteed for members by this offer however PCS has retained the ability to negotiate further should factors like inflation rising above current rates impact on the pay increases.

There will be full consultation before any changes to opening hours to the public where PCS will thoroughly go through the rationale for change and what genuine demand there is from the public and what levels of staffing are required. It is not that long ago that PCS negotiated around the ending of Saturday working in pensions and working age benefits where there was not sufficient demand to warrant the opening hours.

All those members who currently have 8-8 contracts would also be covered by these new safeguards which include :-
● Anyone who cannot work evenings or Saturdays will be protected – the Equality Act obviously applies but all members not covered by this legislation will also have their personal or caring circumstances properly considered. We have negotiated an extra tier at regional level to deal with unreasonable decisions and put pressure on local managers to make the right decision at the outset.
● No members will have to increase their working hours
● For those who are able to work some of their current working hours after 5 or on Saturday we have negotiated protection in the frequency that this can be asked- to no more than 1 evening in 5 or 1 Saturday in 4. Anyone who works a Saturday can chose their non-working day including the following Monday which means they can continue to have a 48 hour rest break in the week.
● Any member can opt out if members vote for the offer to be a collective agreement. PCS has retained the right to continue to push on the pay for these members which management has held down.

The PCS DWP GEC recognised that whilst the offer represented some positive elements such as the increase in pay to the rate for the job for our members, it is clear that not everyone gets a lot more than 1% and that the contractual changes worry many. The recommendation to accept was taken after much discussion but we felt that the safeguards that have been negotiated would be best secured in a collective agreement rather than allow management to simply impose “guidelines” with no legal status. Our assessment is that the levels of action required to prevent the changes to working hours are unlikely to be voted for by the significant number of members in line for an increase of over 20% over the 4 years at the time of a 1% pay cap, and that if we can bank the pay increases and contractualise them, that puts us in the best position to fight the detriment, using the strength gained from having a collective agreement to hold management to account over issues that the whole membership can unite over. This would strengthen the union’s ability to defend members and the pay increases would become a contractual right. We are clear that any attempts by management to breach the collective agreement would result in a strong, united response from PCS and our members in DWP.

Posted in Uncategorized

PCS Group Elections open – vote PCS Left Unity!

12933128_10208217950301686_3503595675831241060_nGroup elections are now open – and the fight begins to re-elect fighting democratic group leaderships of PCS. Sarah Spencer, young member, Dundee Pensions branch secretary, and candidate for DWP GEC explains why this means voting Left Unity in group elections and the Democracy Alliance for the NEC.

In order to ensure the future of the union, the recruitment and organising of young members is a key priority, as is training them to become the next layer of activists. It was PCS Left Unity, in concert with the PCS Democrats, under the umbrella of the Democracy Alliance that first set up the Young Members Network, to be run by and for young members. Since then, our young activists have been critical to sustaining the activist culture of the union.

Whether it’s on national marches fighting austerity, such as those called by the TUC “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” campaign, or running seminars on bullying, mental health and workplace issues, young members have been at the forefront of the fightback against the government’s attack on working class people.

Under my predecessor as Young Members Network chair, our young members fought to improve working conditions in contact centres, and the YMN have just re-launched the Contact Centre Charter, to help us continue that fight. Right now we are fighting for better apprenticeships and looking towards organising the mass of un-organised young workers. We have worked with campaigns such as Youth Fight for Jobs and the Bakers’ Union “Fast Food Rights” campaign, participating in solidarity protests outside McDonald’s, who are a terrible and anti-union employer, to demand a £10 minimum wage.

Left Unity is the socialist faction in PCS. We believe passionately that this campaigning approach is the only way to defeat employers and a government that are determined to see workers pay to clean up their economic mess, so they can hang on to the vast wealth they make from our work. The only way we’re going to get a better deal is if we organise and fight for it. We want young members to lead this fight, and we support them at every level of the union. It is as a result of this support that our young members proposed through Youth TUC’s the demand for a £10 minimum wage, which has been adopted.

In DWP, as a result of our on-going campaigns, the employer has offered thousands of permanent jobs to AO and EO Fixed Term Appointments, including many apprentices. We have highlighted the continuing discrimination faced by young people as a result of the hated performance management regime. I am standing for DWP GEC as a Left Unity candidate to continue this fight.

So if you want a fighting, democratic union that stands up for young people, vote for Left Unity in the elections, but even more importantly, join today, get involved and help us build a future for young people.

PCS DWP poster

Posted in Uncategorized

The fight against Land Registry Privatisation goes on

11164057_10153858872318502_2866552203552201847_nBy Dave Lunn, Vice President, Land Registry group (Personal Capacity)

At 5pm on the evening before parliament recessed for Easter, plans to consult on the proposed privatisation of Land Registry were sneakily released by George Osborne’s office.

These new plans come less than 2 years after previous plans for Privatisation from the coalition government were soundly defeated by a mass united campaign led by PCS involving political lobbying, work with customers, the public and those who have an interest in Land for the benefit of society. A 38degrees petition was launched and received over 100,00 signatures and this was all rounded off with 2 days of well supported strike action with many members coming into activity for the first time. As a result of the sum of all these parts of our campaign, the government retreated on their plans.

We knew however knew that a Tory majority government would come after us again and that is what we are now facing. This time around however their rationale for Privatisation has changed from supporting digitisation of Land Registry services to raising a capital receipt for paying down debt and supporting the government’s infrastructure programme, in effect a payday today to the detriment of the long-term public interest, particularly as Land Registry costs the tax payer nothing and paid £100m back into the public purse in 2015.

Having considered their flimsy and economically illiterate case it is clear that this is less about raising money for the public good and is more about transferring profitable public asserts to their big city mates, whilst retaining the liability element with government. In effect nationalising the risk and privatising the profit.

We are however ready for them and are currently putting together a submission in response to the consultation document which rebuts their arguments and puts forward an alternative that is in the interest of our members, customers and wider society. We will follow this up with member led political lobbying, media work, campaigning with customers and the public and ultimately with an industrial response if required.  In the meantime time you can help us by signing the latest 38 degrees petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-privatisation-of-the-land-registry

One of the main reasons for our success last time around was the excellent solidarity and practical and financial support that we received from Left Unity comrades and the Democracy Alliance NEC.

This time around we are already receiving similar support and resources for the campaigning work that we need to do.

This is why I and the majority of reps within Land Registry group support Left Unity and Democracy Alliance candidates and would encourage you to do the same in the upcoming GEC and NEC elections. We understand that it is crucial to have a bold socialist union led by Left Unity  not only to support our own campaign but also to fight alongside teachers, doctors and others for a society that works in the interests of the 99%.

Posted in Elections

Join PCS Left Unity in the Home Office

By12998685_10154193975039797_3097030845266023389_n Lawrence Dunne
PCS Group Vice President, Home Office (personal capacity)

For a long time now, the Home Office has been a willing guinea pig for the medicine which the Government are trying to inject into the wider public sector. Whether it is PDR, check off withdrawal, punishing HR policies or sacking union reps, it’s usually a fairly safe bet that management in the Home Office tried it first.

The department is one of the most hostile in the entire Civil Service and Left Unity activists within the Home Office have been at the forefront of defending members and continuing to build the union in the face of this hostility. Much to the annoyance of the employer, the union won’t go away and Left Unity is committed to making our presence stronger than ever.

Left Unity activists in the Home Office have played a leading role in winning victories for members against the employers will, through a determination to campaign and take action to make the employer listen to our arguments. This includes:

  • Winning 1100 extra jobs in Her Majesty’s Passport Office, rolling back and adding to jobs lost by previous Government cuts
  • Securing agreements on pay which mean that minimum pay rates are at levels which exceed the real Living Wage
  • Successfully arguing for hundreds of Fixed Term Jobs to be converted to permanency
  • Signing up the vast majority of members to Direct Debit in just 9 weeks after the Home Office became the first department to withdraw check off.

Despite these important achievements, our job is nowhere near done – in fact it is just beginning.

The department have set out a blue print for cuts in the coming years. As well as the obvious impact on jobs and communities, these cuts will also inevitably lead to increased workloads and bullying within the department. The cuts are not inevitable, but can only be defeated through a mixture of clear demands and strong organisation in every workplace.

Through continuing to put trust in Left Unity candidates,  members can be reassured that they will be electing reps who understand that we can’t wait until the employer are prepared to ‘play nice ‘and that we must be prepared to fight at every level for the workplace we want.

Vote for Left Unity in the forthcoming elections as the only way of making sure our union is led by activists committed to fighting on a socialist platform, determined to defend members and the services we provide, by unashamedly opposing the narrative of austerity and always arguing for the alternative.

Posted in Uncategorized

DWP Election 2016: A personal message from Fran Heathcote, Group President

Dear fellow PCS Rep,

I am writing to you in a personal capacity to ask you to use the enclosed leaflets (see attached below) to maximise support in your workplace for Left Unity in the DWP GEC and NEC elections.

ORGANISING TO WIN10245466_10152111536036279_9029406575189092172_n
Ballot papers will be issued from Wednesday 28th April and members may receive them as early as Saturday April 30th. Most members vote in the first few days so ideally they need to receive a Left Unity leaflet or Branch recommendation by Friday 29th April. You can use our ‘4 steps to winning’ leaflet to maximise the vote for LU candidates.

I am proud of the record of the Left Unity­-led GEC in defending members against the attacks from both the government and the employer. Whether it’s fighting for decent pay, campaigning for more staff and preventing compulsory redundancy or working tirelessly to sign members up to direct debit, our approach has been to work closely with branches and regions. Listening to the views of representatives across the union has been, and will remain, critical to the success of our campaigns. Despite our past successes we cannot afford to be complacent. DWP members remain at the sharp end of this government’s attacks. We have a government hell-bent on decimating the public sector, we still need more staff. Office closures are a massive threat under the People and Locations strategy, attendance management policies put more of our members at risk of dismissal and privatisation continues to be high on this government’s list of priorities. We need a strong, determined leadership. A leadership prepared to negotiate but one also willing to fight when necessary. A leadership with the proven negotiating experience and skill to defend members in DWP and the public we serve.

If we are re­elected I guarantee that we will keep listening and acting on your concerns. We will continue to work closely with the national union under the leadership of Janice Godrich and Mark Serwotka, to put the full strength of DWP behind every campaign. With your support we can win these elections. If you want to contact me about these elections, Left Unity or any PCS matter you can do so at any time. Feel free to email me at home on fran[AT]heathcote156.fsnet.co.uk (remove [AT] and insert @).

Yours in solidarity
Fran Heathcote

Download a printable version of the leaflets to encourage members to vote for Left Unity candidates.

[Main Leaflet for all members – click to download]

[Branch Recommendations 2016 – click to download]

[Fran Heathcote, personal message – click to download]


Posted in Elections

Young members – why I’m voting for PCS Left Unity!

12974264_10209287463412408_4714415328117963_nWhy I am voting for PCS Left Unity in 2016
Claire Keogh, Young Member, Branch Organiser in DWP Longbenton (personal capacity)

As a young person who grew up through austerity, the socialist movement is incredibly important to me, and to my future. I joined the civil service aged 16, and since then have been horrified to see the changes to policy, loss of jobs and insulting pay rises. In my personal life, I’ve watched the NHS struggle to provide the service it needs to, and used to, due to brutal underfunding, I’ve lived in dilapidated housing with a seemingly un-contactable landlord and racked up thousands of pounds of debt in an education system that fails to support students who can’t afford to both live and attend their course without a part time job.

I am proud to be part of PCS, because I genuinely feel that they are on my side, and fighting to ensure that future generations won’t experience some of the things I have. I see this most with Left Unity; I believe that having a strong, organised union is vital to continue to make progress against a government that wants to see us fail, and for me, there are no better candidates for the job than them. I see all of my values in Left Unity, and it’s reassuring to know that there are so many hard-working, experienced LU reps delivering results through their PCS work and campaigning – it’s so important to me that we continue to see this happen next year, which is why I’ll be voting for the Left Unity candidates.

Posted in Elections

2016 Elections: A message from Janice Godrich, PCS national president

JaniceDear Colleague

PCS is one of the most democratic unions in the UK. Shortly you will receive ballot papers to elect your National Executive Committee for the next 12 months. I would like to ask you to consider re-electing me as President, along with my Democracy Alliance colleagues, Over the last 12 months PCS has faced an attack on our existence by this Westminster government. I am incredibly proud of every PCS member who, alongside me, the NEC and our workplace representatives, have ensured this didn’t succeed. In fact, we are emerging stronger and more determined than before.

Since first elected in 2002 I and my Democracy Alliance colleagues have worked determinedly to protect and advance your interests, travelling the UK speaking with members, building PCS, working for unity with other public sector unions and promoting our alternative to the government’s cuts based on tax justice, job creation, investment and equality for all.

PCS has earned wide respect under my leadership working alongside General Secretary Mark Serwotka.

We have built an influential union with a proven track record of standing up for you. We:-

 Stood up to this government. Defended our union from their attempt to destroy us by removing check-off
 Ensured the finances of the union are sound
 Stand ready to defend our national agreement on job protection that prevented thousands of compulsory redundancies
 Campaigned hard against attacks on pensions and conditions
 Stopped planned privatisations
 Stopped removal of paid sick leave
 Won over £50 million compensation for members facing problems at work
 Fully supported departmental disputes that consistently win concessions
 Promoted an Alternative to austerity which is supported throughout the union movement and beyond

The priorities of the Democracy Alliance are

 To defend jobs, services, terms, conditions and demand our employer honours negotiated agreements
 To campaign hard for fair pay, progression and equal pay.
 Continue to oppose privatisation and attacks on pensions
 Organise against unfair office closures.
 Oppose discrimination and discredited Performance Management policies
 Promote equality and support those with caring responsibilities
 Maximising support for local representatives to defend you in the workplace.
 Build unity and action with public sector unions across the UK

Life at work is difficult. Whilst governments continue to attack our terms and conditions it is important you re-elect a leadership with a proven track record of organising a strong union to stand up for you. Please continue to support the Democracy Alliance who will work tirelessly to protect your interests and consider supporting the candidates listed below.

With Best Wishes

Janice Godrich

Democracy Alliance

Posted in Uncategorized

Get your branch ready for elections 2016 – vote Democracy Alliance

Vote DA 2016Ballots will begin arriving 21st April.

Ballots must be returned by 12th May.

Get your DWP Left Unity Slate here.

Get your HMRC Left Unity Slate here.

Get the Democracy Alliance slate for NEC elections here.

If your branch has nominated the Democracy Alliance for NEC elections, and Left Unity for group elections, make sure to get issue these slates as official recommendations from the branch.

Here is the official branch check-list, which activists can use to turn out the vote.

PCS Left Unity is proud of our record as part of the Democracy Alliance.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fight for a Northern Powerhouse, not a Northern Poorhouse

Bis leafletJoin the march on April 9th, Sheffield. Assemble at noon, Devonshire Green, Sheffield S3 7SG and march to city hall for rally and speakers. Marion Lloyd, PCS BIS Group President, writing in a personal capacity explains this new Tory attack and what the response must be.

It is clear that this Tory government is determined to drive the knife of austerity deep into the hearts of working class communities  Latest in their box of tricks is the complete decimation of the Civil Service through their so called “estates strategy” which, if allowed to go ahead, will see more than 600 government buildings close throughout the UK.  Driven by the Cabinet office, this is on top of estates plans within each government Department. This will not only see thousands of civil Service workers made redundant, but the impact on the delivery of key services and on local communities will be of a magnitude never before experienced.

What this means concretely in the department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) the alleged department for growth, is “efficiency” savings of 40%, reducing the number of partner bodies from 46 to 23 and a reduction in premises from 86 to 6.  The impact of this will be devastating.

Across BIS we already have had the announcements of the withdrawal of funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, based in Rotherham, the announcement of the privatisation of the green Investment Bank, the announcement of the privatisation of Land Registry and the closing down of the National Weights and Measurements Regulations Office.  We know this is just the tip of the iceberg.

But probably as shocking was the announcement from the department out of the blue that 300 policy jobs are set to move from across the UK and be centralised into London if the Senior Management in BIS have their way. In a shock announcement which took place in Sheffield, on the 28th January, management told staff that the Sheffield office would be closed and all policy jobs would be moving to London. PCS is determined to oppose this loss of about 250 jobs in Sheffield and a further 50 across the UK.  This flatly contradicts the flowery words of the government about having more jobs outside London and having people of diverse backgrounds involved in developing policy. It also threatens decades of experience and knowledge.

This announcement alone gives the lie to the Tories’ Northern Powerhouse rhetoric.  Moving 300 good quality jobs to London will have a devastating impact on the local economy and the local communities.  In Sheffield 250 job losses will mean local businesses, schools and hospitals closing as a direct result of the loss to the economy.  An already poor city will become poorer and these plans must be stopped.

Left-led PCS BIS Group immediately went into action.  Not telling the Trade unions about the announcement in advance, taken together with the fact that their lead rep was about to go on leave worked against the management as it built on the anger of workers.  Within 24 hours, we had questions asked in parliament and had enlisted the support of local MP’s, local Councillors, local unions and the local press.  Coverage in the national press followed. We have worked tirelessly to build a campaign around a clear set of demands including no compulsory redundancies and no office closures without union agreement, talking to the employer on the one hand but building the membership (more than 50 people joined PCS in 24 hours), and building a campaign of opposition.  This has included linking up with PCS branches across the city and across the union, contacting other unions in the city together with the local council and MP’s building a political campaign.  This has been extremely effective resulting in nearly 300 parliamentary Questions, a Parliamentary debate, a select Committee hearing and close questioning from the Public Accounts Committee exposing the fact that there is no case for closure and no savings.  Ordinary members have played a pivotal role in working with elected reps to organise the workers on the ground into lobbying MP’s, writing to MP’s developing an alternative model to put to management and building support at a local level. This has freed up the reps to do the broader work to campaign and organise throughout BIS group, work in Parliament and with the broader media.

Central to this though is the industrial muscle of Civil Service workers.  Within a couple of weeks we had achieved 3 key changes from the employer – their decision suddenly became a proposal, a 2 month extention to their consultation period and they conceded that the movement of work from non-Sheffield locations into London had a more relaxed timeline.

However this is not enough – we are determined to keep our office open and have now upped our political work to make direct representations to the prime minister and the Secretary of State Sajid Javid (yep the steel man!)– who has so far refused to meet us.  We have also agreed to ballot for industrial action and to increase the ballot if management don’t agree to withdraw their proposals.

PCS Left Unity is absolutely clear that this government isn’t interested in efficiency and cost savings; their supposed Iron Chancellor has wracked up more debt than every other government in British history whilst simultaneously slashing services relied on by huge numbers of working class people. Our activists have been at the forefront of every campaign PCS has fought since it was created – and electing these class fighters will ensure the battle against cuts will continue. PCS Left Unity calls on all PCS branches and the wider union movement to look at ways to support the march and rally to defend BIS jobs in Sheffield on 9th April.

Posted in Uncategorized

PCS Left Unity

Left Unity is a faction within the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) that is represented at every level of the union, from branches and workplaces to the National Executive Committee. We believe in a democratic and fighting union and have a proud history within PCS and its predecessor unions in delivering for members.

2016 Election Slates

Click on the links below to get the latest slates for national and group elections. Nominate and get the vote out in your branches today!