DWP members are very much part of the National Pay Campaign

Martin Cavanagh on pay in DWP

DWP Vice President and NEC member Martin Cavanagh writes about how DWP members still have a battle to fight on pay, despite Employee Deal.

The DWP Left Unity leadership have been clear from day one of the Employee Deal, that our members would still play an important role in the National Pay Campaign launched by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

We have been clear at both NEC and Group Executive Committee (GEC) meetings that not only would this be the case, but that it was vitally important that members in DWP play an active part in the campaign, which will see a day of protest across the country this Friday (31st March).

Despite this unequivocal message our political opponents in Independent Left have cynically produced an article suggesting otherwise. They have claimed that a recent group circular “stops most of us from getting involved” and goes on to say “the vast bulk of members in the DWP will not be involved in the national pay campaign”. Not only is this cynical, leading members of IL were present at both NEC and GEC meetings when this was discussed, it is blatantly untrue and shows the lengths they will go to mislead our members into accepting their line.

A further group bulletin was issued today highlighting exactly why this important national campaign was very much a DWP issue and highlighted the reasons why all members in DWP should join in the protests this coming Friday and why branches should get involved.

Unlike the IL article, which solely criticises an earlier bulletin and does nothing to try and convince members of why they should participate, the LU leadership of the GEC has articulated exactly why we should all get behind the campaign. It is typical of IL to criticise rather than offer any ideas of their own, and shows contempt for our membership, who have always stood up and been counted when it matters.

The article repeats what the LU GEC stated last year, when we completed the widest ever direct consultation with the DWP membership, in highlighting the issues faced by those members who fared less well out of the Employee Deal, but significantly it fails to mention any of the real gains in pay our members received as a result of LU led negotiations. In reading their propaganda you could be forgiven for thinking the 15-20% increase in many members’ pay over four years, the return of real pay progression and the negotiated spot rate didn’t form part of the Collective Agreement.

Incredibly the IL article asks if the PCS DWP pay team will “recommend pulling out of the Employee Deal on the basis it doesn’t deliver the 1% plus to all members?” failing to address what would happen if that approach was taken. Left Unity are clear that had we failed to negotiate last year’s agreement the significant pay increases the majority of our members received, the introduction of a spot rate and the return of pay progression, would not have been achieved. We are equally clear that the 0.25% paid to members who chose to opt-out of the deal would have disappeared, with 0% a very real possibility.

The LU led GEC will not be withdrawing from the ED Collective agreement that members overwhelmingly voted for last year. Instead we will concentrate on campaigning to bring up the rates of pay for those who didn’t do as well out of the agreement and on fully implementing the terms of the Collective Agreement with regard to working patterns.

The Left Unity PCS pay negotiators have already used the terms of the Collective Agreement to raise the issues of pay for members who opted out, work in SLPZs or are on or near the max, who will suffer as a result of the recent rises in inflation.

Left Unity, unlike Independent Left, will not accept defeat and claim the national campaign is dead in our department. Instead we will continue to campaign on these issues for members and Friday 31st March is part of that campaign.

Equally we will not be so dismissive of the need to pursue decent increases for our members in grades SEO and above, which barely gets a mention in the article. Somewhat of a surprise given the IL DWP candidate for Group President is in fact an SEO.

Left Unity in DWP achieved a major breakthrough last year on pay, addressing the pay inequality with other government departments, but there is much more to be done. We must continue to both negotiate and campaign, with the aim of improving pay, breaking the Government pay cap and introducing pay progression for all our members. Until that is achieved activities like Friday’s protests are an integral part of our campaign strategy, and we are confident members will overlook the negativity of the IL argument and will join with tens of thousands of fellow Civil Servants this Friday in solidarity.

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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.