PCS

All out strike at BEIS

Cleaners and catering staff at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) began an all-out, indefinite strike on 15 July. This is extremely significant. It’s the first all out strike in a Whitehall government department for decades. The demands include the London living wage, sick pay, and direct employment. The union is paying full strike pay. We won’t let these members be starved back to work. Fundraising for the strike funds is one of the best things activists in the wider labour movement can do to help these workers win. On Thursday 18, there’ll be a joint march of...

At one with the members

I have now signed a contract with the PCS and have become an employee of the union from 1 July. As such I am entitled to a salary of £69,466 a year (£5,788 a month). As part of my election platform, though, I promised not to take the full AGS salary but only take home the wage of a DWP Executive Officer (EO) working in London. EO is the most common grade in the Civil Service; DWP is the biggest part of the Service, and I work in London. Therefore it seems to me that the EO salary is a representative wage of members in the union. Further, in my opinion it is a worker’s wage. I asked the union...

Outsourced workers’ strikes

Outsourced workers at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) began a five day strike from 17 June, immediately following an outsourced workers’ strike at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (F&CO). Both strikes have had exceptionally lively picket lines. Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, walked past the F&CO picket and naturally strikers and supporters took the opportunity to make him aware of the issues, politely and diplomatically, of course. The following day, Hunt wrote to Interserve, the contractor which employs outsourced workers in the F&CO, to press them...

Outsourced workers’ strikes spread

Outsourced workers’ disputes in the civil service are spreading. Cleaners, porters, and maintenance workers employed by the contractor Interserve at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office began a five day strike on 10 June. The situation for the workers there is acute: Interserve hasn’t paid them since 28 April, plunging many of them into severe hardship. The union is setting up food banks on the picket lines. We’ve called for a day of labour movement solidarity there on 12 June, where we hope other union branches, Labour Parties, socialist groups, and others will support the picket line...

Sparking and spreading disputes

There are numerous disputes going on across the civil service at the moment. The Universal Credit dispute in Walsall is just one of them. That dispute focuses on workload, and there’s a feeling that other workers in similar situations across the union might take similar action. That opens up the potential for a wider dispute within the Department for Work and Pensions. There are also disputes against the threatened closure of offices, such as the Ealing tax office, where workers have recently taken action. In HMRC and DWP the Government plans the mass closures of offices therefore it is...

A different PCS conference

The 2019 conference of PCS, the main civil service union, from 21-23 May in Brighton was the most open and interesting one in years. The great majority of motions on the Conference agenda were not controversial and nor should they be: the bulk of equality and terms and conditions motions should command support. However, on a number of issues the NEC found itself struggling to win over delegates. The NEC was censured – an unprecedented event at PCS conference — over its inadequate response to the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, co-signing a letter last July to the Morning Star. This...

PCS leadership censured for evasions on trans rights

Motion A21 at the 2019 conference of civil service union PCS dealt with the leadership's approach to trans rights. (See the motions document, p12.) In 2017 and 2018 conference voted to support amendment of the Gender Recognition to facilitate self-identification; despite opposition from the NEC in 2017 these motions passed overwhelmingly. This year A21 condemned and proposed censure of the NEC for its response and for General Secretary Mark Serwotka’s unilateral signatory of a letter published in the Morning Star, alongside numerous vehemently trans-exclusionary individuals, suggesting that...

Letters

Left on PCS election The victory in the PCS civil service union’s Assistant General Secretary (AGS) election for John Moloney, candidate of the Independent Left and a supporter of Workers’ Liberty, has met diverse responses from the left press. Socialist Worker, which backed Lynn Henderson, was the first to respond. It emphasised the low turnout (it was low, but higher than last time) and claimed that “Moloney… is against the union’s national campaign for a 10 per cent pay rise”. Not true: John Moloney emphasised pay equality, but not at the expense of a general rise. The Socialist Party...

PCS: close vote on pay

On the first day of the conference of the PCS civil service union in Brighton, 21 May, a composite backed by the Independent Left on pay was only narrowly defeated. The debate centred round two emergency motions, one from the National Executive (NEC), and a composited backed both by the Independent Left and by the Socialist Party, which until recently dominated the union leadership. It went to a card vote. The NEC motion passed 62,000 to 60,000, so the alternative composite fell. The NEC motion could be summed up as “do the same again”. PCS’s latest attempt to beat the 50% turnout threshold...

PCS Independent Left wins against “status quo” left

On Thursday 9 May, the PCS civil service union announced that Independent Left candidate John Moloney had won the election for Assistant General Secretary. John Moloney spoke to Solidarity. I believe that standing on a worker’s wage, rather than taking the on-offer wage of £91k, was of decisive weight in the outcome. Certainly many people said it was the reason why they voted for me. Another thing that helped is that most of the voting took place during the strike ballot for pay, so reps were already taking to members. This might account for turnout increasing from 8% to over 10% this time —...

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