8 May 2012
The government want PCS members to:
And a two-year pay freeze is to be followed by 1% rises. New regional pay plans mean that everyone outside London might face further cuts.
Civil servants and other public sector workers are uniting to defend everything we have worked for. The government is
The latest scheme is regional pay – which would mean wage cuts for everyone outside London.
The final straw for members in the defence sector group is the arbitrary job cuts across our department when not a single output has been stopped – the work has simply been passed on to ‘the survivors’ Surviving is not enough, we want a fair deal.
The strike is your chance to take a stand with colleagues from across government departments and with other trade unions across the public services. We are demanding real negotiations with the government, not imposed cuts.
Below are the legalities of this and what you can and cannot do on 10 May.
In an ideal world (well in a trade union ideal world!) every member of staff would be a union member. We are continuously working to increase our membership density in the MoD and across the civil service, but recognise that for whatever reason some people will choose not to join a union.
However every member of staff in the MoD must follow the same rules and regulations when industrial action takes place. One such thing is the granting of leave at this time. Previously when the MoD manuals governed us the instruction was “In the case of those who are on strike, annual leave or flexi leave that falls within a period of industrial action will be cancelled. Annual leave and flexi leave cannot be granted retrospectively to cover strike action. Agreement to grant annual leave requests prior to a known or anticipated period of industrial action for leave during that period of action is a matter for management discretion in the usual way.”
The current PRG makes it more of a grey area – “You must use your discretion in the usual way when considering leave requests prior to a known or anticipated period of industrial action for leave during that period of action.” and “Q. Can I take annual/flexi/special paid leave on the day of a strike? A. Approval of such requests will be at the discretion of your Line Manager.”
Having secured a mandate for industrial action, our union expects all members to support the industrial action on 10 May by not attending for work. If members have booked leave in advance of the announcement of strike days, it is accepted that the employer has a duty to honour that leave. Equally the member can convert the leave to a strike day or take leave and donate a days pay to the union’s hardship fund.
The moral issue here is members who knowingly apply for annual leave to avoid crossing picket lines or taking strike action. This totally undermines the effect of taking industrial action.
Picketing comprises demonstrating on the public highway with the aim of gaining publicity and support for a trade dispute, by persuading fellow employees to join the action, preventing the employer taking on substitute workers and causing suppliers and customers to boycott the employer.
Management cannot prevent peaceful picketing; it is our established legitimate right.
Picketing is not a form of industrial action but the means by which some forms of industrial action, especially strikes are made more effective. The statutory immunity for picketing is contained in S.220 (1) TULR(C) Act 1992, which states: “It is lawful for a person in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to attend at or near his own place of work ... for the purpose only of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or peacefully persuading any person not to work or to abstain from working”.
We expect MoD management to again try and limit the number of pickets outside MoD establishments to six or less because the BIS guidance states, “Accordingly pickets and their organisers should ensure that in general the number of pickets does not exceed six.” All recent PCS MoD picket lines have been peaceful, well organised and the pickets have politely asked staff not to cross the picket line. Not one complaint has been made. We fully expect this to happen on the 10 May. Accordingly we will welcome as many people as possible to support our picket lines, particularly recognising that we will be joined by colleagues from FDA, GMB, Prospect and Unite.
Members in the MoD are quite rightly enraged about the proposals to slash their pensions whilst in the middle of a pay freeze and facing 32,000 civilian job cuts. We therefore encourage as many members as possible to volunteer and help at MoD picket lines on 10 May. If your branch has not asked you yet about picket line duties please contact your branch secretary or local PCS rep straight away.
Our union deplores any pressure put on members to either not take action or to tell management whether their intention is to take action or not. As with the rules on leave (see above), the rules and regulations on reporting responsibilities are deliberately ambiguous in what is again we believe, an intentionally badly written part of the PRG.
The PRG states –
“Q. Do I have to tell my line manager of my intention to take part in industrial action?
A. Your line manager may ask you if you will be taking part in industrial action, but you do not have to respond. However, you must inform your line manager when you are absent due to taking strike action in accordance with normal reporting procedures. If you do not turn up for work on a day of strike action and you do not provide a reason for your absence, it is acceptable for your line manager to regard you as participating in the industrial action.”
The firm advice from our union is that members are under no compulsion to let their line management chain that they plan to take strike action. Nor do you have to answer any questions that management might pose to assist them run a normal service on the strike day. After the strike day you may choose to inform management that you were on strike or you may say nothing.
If there are any attempts at coercion by management to either intimidate you into not supporting the strike, or any attempts to compel you into telling management whether or not you intend to take action, please report this immediately to our union via your local rep or to the union nationally briefly describing the incident and location, managers name and your contact details (although we will keep your details anonymous). We will be taking up every instance with senior MoD management via the MoD employment framework team.
The MoD as an employer states that bullying and harassment is not acceptable in the MoD, and that includes during periods of industrial action.
On this occasion, the PRG is quite clear on what the official side can communicate with members during a period of industrial action such as the lead up to 10 May.
It states, “You can communicate with employees and/or TUs during a dispute. This communication, which could be in the form of a management notice, must be based on facts. You must copy to the TU’s any communication you send to employees.” It “must be based on facts”. In other words – the truth!! As above, if you receive any management communication regarding the industrial action that you are concerned about, please contact your local rep for guidance.
For many years now, the MoD and the government have spoken about how they appreciate you. For example, in his first public speech after being made the new defence secretary, Philip Hammond rightly praised our armed forces and added, “…they are supported by some of the most dedicated people in the public service”
Our union certainly appreciates (and agrees) with these thoughts, but unfortunately when it comes to important issues such as pensions, pay and job security, these words are of little comfort to members in the defence sector.
Principal rule 1a of our union’s rules states, “The Union's Objects shall be to protect and promote the interests of its members.” Our union has not asked for a better pension provision. We are simply trying to ‘protect’ the entitlement we already have. If these proposals go through, it will leave every member in a much weaker position. It has never been more important to support our union and to fight for our entitlements.
PCS DSg deputy group secretary
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