2011 was probably one of the toughest years in the recent history of the civil service, trade unions and wider society. In the coming year, the economic crisis is likely to worsen, impacting hard on all PCS members in the public and commercial sectors.
Across the country, people’s living standards are falling and their jobs more vulnerable than ever. In neighbourhoods up and down the
country, local services are being closed down as the cuts bite.
The challenges PCS members face are multiple: 710,000 jobs are at risk across the public sector; pay has been frozen for two years and the government is proposing to cap it at 1% for a further two years; while everyone is being told they must work longer and pay more for a lower pension.
On top of this assault on our livelihoods are attacks on reps’ facility time, increased threats of privatisation, removal of legal rights
through tribunals and to legal aid, and even the threat to restrict our right to take industrial action.
Underpinning the government’s agenda is an ideological crusade against the public sector and trade unions, and an irrational belief in
market demands that more and more cuts will somehow boost the economy.
The government’s economic policy is failing to stimulate growth, create jobs, or close the deficit. It is also leading to the mass misery of unemployment, and job insecurity.
The government is trying to divide public and private sector workers, but our union welcomes both and our commercial sector has again
demonstrated that unions can recruit, organise and win on jobs, pay and working conditions in the private sector.
PCS members have learned that by standing together and campaigning we can stop some of these attacks – and it is vital that we do. Yet again, 2011 was a year in which PCS members have inspired each other, the wider labour movement and many others with our campaigning and our mobilisations at events like the March for the Alternative on 26 March.
We played a key role in securing co-ordinated strike action to defend pensions in June and November.
We have built good working relationships and joint campaigns with many unions, including Unite with whom we signed an agreement at
We have also supported many other progressive campaigns in defence of members’ interests. Local reps are the backbone of our union and we would like to conclude by thanking them for the vital work they do for members.
As ever, we will attempt to visit as many branch AGMs as possible, and encourage all members to attend and contribute their views.
Finally, it is vital that our union remains as strong and united in 2012 and we encourage every member to recruit any non-unionised
workers in your workplace.
By uniting together we can resist the huge attacks we face.
Mark Serwotka Janice Godrich
General secretary President
The campaign against government public sector cuts dominated our activities during the last year. The level of the threats to jobs, pensions, pay and public services meant that PCS faced a huge challenge in 2011, and responded with a campaign aimed at uniting unions and communities for an alternative to the cuts.
In setting out its cuts programme, the government has put forward an austerity programme of: 34% central government budget cuts; cuts in frontline services; increases in pension contributions; the implementation the recommendations of the Hutton review; and a two year pay freeze for the public sector. This approach to reducing the deficit is intended to deliver a permanently smaller public sector, with fewer employees, on lower pay and pensions.
Our campaign, set out in the booklet There is an Alternative, is for investment in public services and jobs, to stimulate economic growth, tax revenue and reduce unemployment. In 2011 this campaign was focused on government pension plans for public sector workers to pay more and work longer for a lower pension.
Members were balloted asking if they supported the union’s national campaign to defend jobs, pension pay and public services. In January,
the campaign received an overwhelming endorsement with 96% voting in favour of the campaign, on a 32% turnout.
The TUC organised the “March for the Alternative” on Saturday 26 March. Estimates of the numbers on the march vary, but even the government conceded that half a million marchers demonstrated for an alternative to the cuts. The general secretary addressed the huge rally in Hyde Park and called for those who had marched together – to now strike together. PCS organised over 25,000 members from all over the country to take part in the demonstration.
Also in March the NEC agreed to ballot members for strike action, over cuts to jobs, pensions and the pay freeze, and this call was endorsed by the annual delegate conference. Members voted in favour of strike action (61.1%) and action short of strike (83.6%) on a 32.4% turnout. The NEC called a one day strike on 30 June 2011, alongside teaching unions (NUT, ATL and UCU).
In the build-up to the strike there was strong press interest and PCS was able to expose the arguments put up by the government that public sector pensions were unaffordable. 30 June saw 750,000 teachers, lecturers and civil servants take strike action and the greatest level of support for strike action within the civil service for two decades.
Over 100 strike demonstrations took place around the country, with 25,000 marching through central London to a rally in Central Hall, Westminster. That strike pressured the government and emboldened other public sector unions to move to action to stop the great pensions robbery.
At the TUC congress in September, unions from across the public sector, including Unison, GMB and Unite, committed to take strike action over the changes to public sector pensions. At a meeting of public sector unions, which quickly followed congress, it was agreed that a one day strike would take place on 30 November 2011. Two million union members in education, NHS, local government and the civil service would be involved in the action.
In early November PCS, Unite, NUT, UCU and the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) launched a booklet called Fair Pensions for All. It shows the effect of government and employers on public sector, private sector and state pensions.
On 29 November, with the economic outlook worsening, the Chancellor announced: limits to public sector pay increases of 1% for the two years following the pay freeze; an increase to the state (and public sector) pension age to 67; and a range of reviews of employment law, including TUPE, redundancy consultation. The Office for Budget Responsibility increased its projection for public sector job cuts from 400,000 to 710,000.
The strike on 30 November was supported by over two million public sector workers. PCS support surpassed the 30 June and about 1,000 protest events, large and small, took place across the country. PCS challenged in the press and parliament misleading claims by the prime minister and members of the cabinet that pensions in retirement would be bigger in future than under the current schemes.
2011 has been the most challenging in the history of PCS. However, PCS and the trade union movement have responded by organising the largest strike in a generation. While PCS has been calling for a united response to government cuts since the summer of 2010, the year ends with the dispute over pensions far from over.
The campaign now moves into the New Year with PCS leading calls for further co-ordinated strike action, unless the government negotiates on the central pensions issues. With further pay constraint damaging members’ living standards, pay may play more a central role in 2012. This action, and action by groups and branches against job cuts and other local issues, forms the central elements of our campaign for an alternative to the government’s austerity programme.
The main focus of the campaigns and communications department has been supporting the national campaign. Working with groups and regions we have supported the major national activities of 2011: the March for the Alternative, the 30 June and 30 November strikes.
Campaigns and communications continued to support group campaigns across the union in response to the government’s cuts agenda, such as the Forestry Commission and coastguards campaigns. The purpose of our campaign materials is to deliver effective messages to members, aimed at getting them actively involved in the campaign. We have used strong images and messages such as the red card “hands off our pensions” materials. All our materials include an action, aimed at getting members more involved in the union.
A key element of our national campaign has been the pension calculator. This was published on the PCS website in June and by the strike on 30 June had received over 200,000 page visits. The calculator was used by activists outside and inside workplaces to demonstrate to members the effect of government policy, and as such became a key campaigning tool in the dispute. We continued to update the calculator throughout the year as changes were made to the government’s proposals.
We continued to publish View for all PCS members, Activate for PCS activists and produced 26 different magazines for PCS’s groups and associations. Website usage has increased massively during 2011. Over 10,000 have signed up for the e-newsletter, our Twitter account has over 6,000 followers and 3,000 are members of our Facebook group.
In September the NEC agreed a new communications strategy:
The aim of the communication strategy is to maximise all our communications channels to generate active commitment from our members for the campaigns and activities which flow from our democratic decisions.
The implementation of this strategy will involve a review of the design and frequency of PCS View, a separate review of Activate and the Alternative, the introduction of e-newsletters and the development of digital communications systems, which use the data in Commix to target our e-communications towards distinct audiences in PCS.
We also plan to introduce a web-based document library for activists, which will include all PCS briefings for groups, branches and the NEC. This should be of great benefit for activists in reducing paper storage and substantially reducing postage costs.
TUC congress was a smaller event than usual and held at Congress House in London. As there was no time or facilities for the normal fringe events, PCS, the NUT and the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) organised a fringe event combining entertainment with campaign speeches on the Sunday night before TUC congress.
At the Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences PCS organised fringe meetings. At the Labour Party conference, held in Liverpool, PCS had a stand which held daily polls of delegates on matters such as public sector pensions and pay.
In 2011 there were elections in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, as well as in 275 English local councils and for various mayoral posts.
The parliament and assembly elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland formed a significant part of the national campaign. A lower priority was given to elections in England, with resources targeted at particular elections, where there were local issues and where there was a risk of far right parties gaining seats.
We have now undertaken five successful Make Your Vote Count campaigns. While the campaigns have been evolving and adapting to the political and electoral environment, it is important that we review the previous campaigns and consider any changes that need to be made, given the political situation, and best practice in other union or political campaigns. Therefore, the September NEC agreed that there should be a review of MYVC, which will make recommendations early in 2012.
The union has been discussing proposals to stand or support candidates in elections since ADC 2009, which through two extensive consultation exercises with branches has now refined the proposition, which will be put to members in a full ballot in 2012.
Motion A142 in 2011 instructed the NEC to hold a full membership ballot before ADC 2012. Due to the need to prioritise the national campaign in defence of pensions, pay and jobs, the NEC agreed slightly delay the ballot until June 2012.
A range of materials explaining the issues will be sent to members in the first half of 2012.
PCS retained a high profile in parliament during 2011. Our national campaign was central to parliamentary activities. This also meant large amount of parliamentary activity around the Public Bodies Bill, which sought to abolish many small non-departmental public bodies.
John McDonnell MP continued to chair our parliamentary group and Elfyn Llwyd MP, John Leech MP and Caroline Lucas MP continued as vice-chairs. The number of members of the group increased to its highest ever level, with over 77 members.
The PCS Scottish Parliamentary group was re-formed in September following the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Group members assisted with a lobby of the Parliament on pay and jobs and have had briefings on the national campaign, pensions and DWP job centre closures as well as a general briefing. PCS Scotland and activists have met with MSPs on specific campaigns and some have attended specific PCS events and picket lines. Labour members of the group were instrumental in applying pressure to the Labour group not to cross the picket lines on 30 November.
The Welsh Assembly cross-party group held three meetings, at which AMs agreed to take up issues affecting PCS members. The group gained several new members after the May Assembly elections and helped to ensure Labour and Plaid support for the two strikes and the closure of the Assembly on 30 November.
Our campaigning in parliament was made significantly more effective by the thousands of members who lobbied their MPs using e-actions
from our website.
During the year the priorities for organising were the implementation of the national organising strategy 2011 and supporting the
A full report on the work to implement the national organising strategy will be provided to conference 2012. To support the national campaign there have been three main strands of work.
Firstly, the department has liaised closely with groups and regions to identify branches and workplaces needing support in advance of
30 June and 30 November. Working closely with groups and regions, support was coordinated and provided with speakers for members meetings, help with leafleting, picket line support and general organising back up.
Secondly, after the 30 June the organising department initiated a series of national campaign organising briefings for reps. These briefings had a strong organising focus and emphasised the importance of talking to members face to face about the national campaign. They included video and powerpoint presentations, and sessions to identify weaknesses on 30 June and put in place action plans to improve for 30 November. 120 briefings were held by regions attended by 1,600 reps. These briefings ensured the union was able to make even better preparations for 30 November.
Thirdly, an invaluable new national campaign database was set up by the organising department using pcsReporter. For the first time ever this enabled all PCS regions and staff to input details of branch/workplace national campaign activity and to run reports about branches/workplaces needing support, meetings held, leafleting done, whether there was a picket line and how many members were on strike.
To further support this work the department coordinated phone banks to call branches and discuss with them how well prepared they were for 30 June and 30 November, and arrange any necessary support.
In the civil service 25,000 jobs have been cut in 2011 but membership has only gone down by 11,500 and density has gone up by 3% to 64%.
In the lead up to 30 June an extra 8,000 members were attracted to join PCS and at least another 3,000 joined because of 30 November. Proving that non-members will join a fighting union that campaigns on the issues they are concerned about.
In recognition of the growing importance of organising in the commercial sector, additional organising resources have been allocated for 2012.
Work is continuing on organising in a hostile environment to ensure we are prepared for any attacks on areas such as check off and communication with members.
We launched an organising and recruitment project with six large HQ buildings in central London – DWP, MoD, MoJ, Defra, Home Office and HMRC. The buildings are traditionally difficult to organise and through a range of tailored activities we have considerably raised the profile of the union and built support for the national campaign. The project will continue and aims to raise membership density.
A very successful online joining pilot has been run in the Ministry of Justice group, and online joining by direct debit will be launched soon. The organising department is also working jointly with campaigns to put in place national email communications with reps and members.
During 2011 we have also been successful in expanding our bargaining coverage and building membership in a number of areas such as the Legal Ombudsman, KGB Cleaners in the Royal Household, and the Boundary Commission.
Despite the recruitment freeze and membership ageing, the young members network has maintained its membership levels and continues to add new active members to the network.
Specific young members’ campaign and recruitment materials were designed and used to encourage young people to join the union, the young members network and support the national campaign for industrial action and were used to great effect by young activists across the UK. One in five of all the new members recruited around 30 June were young workers.
To implement conference motion A45, young activists have raised awareness of the “youth against cuts” campaign, with specific campaign materials, using social media such as facebook, held open young members meetings, supported the youth fight for jobs Jarrow march and student demonstrations and worked with other trade union and youth organisations throughout the year.
A new PCS into schools programme and training package is being developed to further conference motion A46. It aims to educate young people about the trade union movement, the benefit of being in a trade union, and workers’ rights.
Following the integration of the work of PCS negotiating officers and organisers into the role of industrial officers, a framework and further training have been developed to emphasise the importance of organising and ensure that the implementation of the national organising strategy forms part of all officers’ work plans.
Throughout 2011 PCS has been fighting government proposals arising from Lord Hutton’s report on public service pensions that will mean members working longer, paying more and getting less. Proposals are to increase contributions to 5.6% on average, phased in over three years, imposing a new lower value scheme on members from April 2012.
Parliamentary lobbying and campaigning work culminating in a high turnout in members taking strike action on both 30 June and
30 November with other public sector unions to oppose these changes have helped negotiators in talks that are ongoing. PCS has worked with other organisations such as the National Pensioners Convention to widen the debate to include broader pensions and economic issues.
The change in measures for pension increases from one method of price indexation Retail Price Index (RPI) to Consumer Price Index (CPI) was challenged by PCS and other unions in the High Court. The TUC estimates that the indexation switch alone will devalue pensions by around 15%.
For active members there is a real detriment in the value of nuvos and for those buying added years. Unfortunately our legal challenge was not successful but at the time of writing PCS was considering an appeal jointly with other unions.
The Joint Committee on Superannuation met three times during the year with the Cabinet Office. Issues raised by the union have included: governance of the scheme in particular issues around the suspension of the valuation, auto enrolment, pensions and divorce, tax relief, delays in benefit statements. As a result of conference decisions in 2011 we have been seeking legal redress in the courts over the changes to inefficiency compensation.
We are seeking ways to minimise the effects of the changes to redundancy taxation and are trying to progress different payment methods to benefit members.
Our Associate and Retired Members (ARMs) continued with a long term review of its role within PCS. We also published four issues of the ARMs newsletter during the year. In 2011 the ARMs Forum was held in Blackpool. PCS welcomes the commitment of our ARMs members in supporting our work and for their involvement in the pension campaign.
A key priority for PCS has been pursuing our campaign on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). The Superannuation Act 2010 imposed new redundancy arrangements on the civil service after a long drawn out battle with the government. This had the effect of reducing benefits for long serving members and forced a 12 month cap on inefficiency payments along with the re-introduction of age tapering.
PCS along with POA requested a judicial review like the successful one in 2010 unfortunately we were not able to persuade the court to our case this time. At the time of writing PCS is discussing the implementation of those arrangements in the civil service and a review of the inefficiency arrangements.
During negotiations PCS argued strongly for an underpin ‘notional salary’ for low paid civil servants to be used for calculating compensation. This amount linked to an earnings index currently stands at £23,000 so members earning less than that have that figure used to calculate payments. Although the cap was reduced for long serving staff it was increased from the government’s original plans from 15 to 21 months pay.
The new arrangements are working in conjunction with the civil service protocols. Guidance is available on the main body of the scheme but still awaited on TUPE cases.
Following motion A94 and the successful survey of members’ incomes and outgoings early in 2011, we again worked with the Working Lives Institute, which carried out the initial members’ pay survey on our behalf, to identify a number of member case-studies.
The information on members’ hardship has been used in our campaign work. These case studies were used to highlight the effects of the government’s austerity measures, and in particular the public-sector pay-freeze, on PCS members.
We will also commission a follow-up members’ pay survey in the early part of 2012. This would again seek to highlight the strain on PCS members’ earnings and resulting hardship, one year on from our initial pay survey. We intend to produce a wider study in 2012, jointly with another union.
Based on the 2009 mapping-exercise carried out by the PCS pay team, we are again gathering the relevant data for the 50 largest bargaining units (which cover approx 90% of PCS membership). The data being collecting is two-fold:
In line with motion A94 it is intended that the above will feed into an ‘anti pay-freeze campaign’ in 2012, such a campaign will seek to:
We will also organise a forum in the early part of 2012 to bring together PCS negotiators to co-ordinate our response to the Treasury pay remit.
PCS is taking a very important equal pay case (DVLA/DSA) which is challenging pay differences across boundaries of separate bargaining units. PCS won the first part of the Tribunal hearing two years ago which allowed pay comparisons between these two agencies of DfT.
A successful outcome to this final part of the tribunal proceedings could have very wide implications for future pay bargaining in DfT, other departments with fragmented bargaining, and the civil service
as a whole.
Working in conjunction with Thompsons’ equal pay team we continue to seek to identify further strategic equal pay cases.
We continue to work closely with the commercial sector to support their work in obtaining the best possible pay and conditions for members in their area.
We also continue to work closely with other organisations who share the concerns of PCS on pay in the UK, including London rates of pay as referred to in motion A95. These include; the TUC national minimum wage enforcement group; the Low Pay Commission; the High Pay Commission; and Fair Pay Network.
We are working with the Labour Research Department (LRD) to enhance branches’ use of our LRD-PCS Payline database. One aspect will be the introduction in 2012 of a tailor-made training course for PCS members on usage and benefits.
Resisting attacks on contractual rights was an integral part of the PCS There is an Alternative campaign during 2012.
Changes to Cabinet Office responsibilities meant negotiations on the work and well-being agenda ceased, but PCS continues to pursue these important issues with the appropriate bodies.
“Next Generation” implementation continued in the civil service. Under the umbrella of “Civil Service HR” (CSHR), employee policy, recruitment services and learning were centralised, with a parallel loss of jobs in departmental HR teams.
PCS engaged in talks about a procedure for national consultation and negotiation between trade unions and CS Employee Policy (CSEP), but these ended without an agreement being reached. There is therefore no mechanism for agreeing personnel policy changes nationally.
We expect all current agreements and established personnel policies terms and conditions to be honoured and proposals for changes to be subject to existing consultation and negotiation arrangements. CSEP is producing new central policy guidance, with departments implementing it over a period of time
Following ADC motions A8, A82 and A384, the NEC, in consultation with the CSHR Groups network and the bargaining and personnel policy forum, developed a strategy to co-ordinate negotiating across the union.
Teams of experienced lay activists, working with full-time officers, are developing guidance and support for bargainers. Using the pay model,
we are drawing up a negotiators’ toolkit and clearing agreements centrally to avoid detrimental precedents being set.
Following the abolition of Government Skills, PCS maintained contact with appropriate sector skills councils, including Skills for Justice. CS Learning (CSL) now commissions learning for the civil service. At regular meetings PCS has raised concerns about using external providers, time for learning and over reliance on e-learning formats.
CSL continues to value the role of union learning reps so we will seek to work jointly to promote learning opportunities.
PCS has the lead role and continued to work with the Cabinet Office to ensure the proper application of the “protocols for handling surplus staff situations” agreement, which seeks to avoid redundancies. Responsibility for the implementation of the protocols
now moved to Civil Service Resourcing (CSR).
Negotiators have used the protocols to ensure that management provides suitable opportunities and support for members at risk. Updated guidance has been published; lay and full-time officers will be able to discuss practical issues at regional events.
Our support for the People Survey was more muted in 2011. Despite its effectiveness, there was concern about the way the results of the 2010 survey had been used in some organisations. Groups and branches therefore publicised the survey only if that did not compromise other local priorities.
Taxation changes on redundancy payments (A546) were addressed by a briefing drawn up with the assistance of the HMRC group. Pressure from PCS and the tax industry resulted in the rules being relaxed and Capita issued a form allowing individuals to claim back tax at the same time as they received their payment.
Discussions about the removal of civil servants’ rights to appeal to the Civil Service Appeal Board (motion A84) against unfair dismissal have not resulted in a satisfactory outcome.
We will continue to press our case at all possible levels, since withdrawing this right means that some civil servants have fewer rights than recommended in the ACAS code of practice.
PCS responded to Government consultations on a broad range of issues (including the Modern Workplace, health and safety and the Red Tape Challenge) which affect members as workers and as service users.
The unions within the Council of Civil Service Unions agreed to dissolve the council in December 2010, as it was regarded that its consensus based constitution was no longer fit for purpose. PCS proposed the setting up of a new committee to ensure liaison and co-ordination amongst unions on matters of common interest and concern.
During 2011 the seven nationally recognised trade unions in the civil service (PCS, POA, Prospect, FDA, NIPSA, Unite and GMB) agreed to create a national trade union committee (NTUC).
This decision allows these unions to co-ordinate consultation and negotiation with the government and the civil service (and related bodies) as employer.
National joint employer/union consultation and negotiation machinery has yet to be fully updated following changes in Cabinet Office responsibilities. The NTUC continues to press on this matter.
NTUC bargaining teams have been convened for formal consultation on a number of issues, including proposals on pension reform, contribution increases and facility time allowances.
PCS is providing support for administering the NTUC and is the central focus for co-ordinating the unions’ responses and policy aims. A number of sub-committees and groups provide opportunities for joint working on specific topics.
Our bargaining, organising, industrial and campaigning activity has focused firmly on building our industrial power and demonstrating that huge multi-nationals can be challenged head on when threatening our member’s jobs, pay and terms and conditions.
Major disputes broke out across the commercial sector this year with members in Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu, Steria and Capita all voting to take strike action.
In Hewlett Packard (HP) we won a major campaign – using political campaigning, work to rule action, planned strike action and the publication of an important academic study into the socioeconomic impact of off shoring on working class communities – that meant over 200 jobs were protected against the off-shoring of work on the DWP contract.
In HP we secured a two year deal that consolidated all previous TUPE transferred bargaining areas and new entrants into a single bargaining unit i.e. national pay. The actual offer featured; £800 compensation to the majority of members for change of pay anniversary date, 2.5% consolidated increases for each of two years, commitment to £15,500 living wage and increases to minima and maxima of 3%.
The lowest paid workers in Fujitsu won an 11% pay increase at the point of sustained strike action. Workers have also won a new progression system for the lowest paid and we are now in negotiations with the employer on a new system of work organisation to improve the working lives of members.
For the first time in their history Steria workers voted in overwhelming numbers to strike over a prolonged period. Their determination prevented an attempt by the employer to impose a pay freeze.
In Capita CRB we have persuaded the employer to operate a voluntary redundancy exercise on enhanced terms and we have won a no-compulsory redundancies guarantee.
On the Xafinity Paymaster contract in Fleetwood, Lancashire we have almost doubled our membership in six months and built an activist structure from a standing start. We are now on the verge of a pay award for these workers and collective bargaining rights. This demonstrates what can be achieved.
Our long term aim is for every member of our union to earn a living wage. In the summer we worked on a joint campaign with UK Citizens to organise MITIE cleaners on the DWP contract. We now have hundreds of new members on the contract and, with the support of the PCS DWP group, are seeking a meeting with ministers to discuss the living wage on the contract. Joint work with the Unite union around our living wage campaign will be launched in 2012.
We have put time and effort into increasing democracy and membership participation in our union. Our Fujitsu group held its first ever election this year and had its first conference. Our HP group and possibly Atos Origin (including our membership which transferred from Siemens) will move to a similar status in 2012.
We have run a number of training courses for new reps in the commercial sector with the training specifically tailored for reps in the private sector.
We have also contributed significantly to the award winning sector work by PCS with sector skills councils and are working with e-skills and asset skills to identify ways to support PCS’s work to develop within the IT and facilities management sectors.
We are actively seeking ways to deliver the instructions set out in A25 and are working on organising pilots to facilitate a wider discussion about how we build industrial power across companies providing services to central government.
We remain keenly aware that the government’s agenda remains to massively increase the role of the private sector in central government. How we respond – in an organising and industrial sense – to this challenge will be pivotal for the future.
PCS continues to challenge inequality and ensure that equality is at the heart of everything we do. In the way we mobilise, organise, recruit and campaign we always strive to ensure we are representing all of our members.
PCS is continuing to put pressure on employers to carry out full and comprehensive equality analysis to consider the likely effects of cuts. We have produced ‘Bargaining around Equality Guidance’ for reps and negotiators, delivered training to groups on equality impact assessments and the Equality Act 2010.
The NEC equality committee has an anti-cuts equality action plan and PCS representatives at all levels are continually seeking to address issues faced by under-represented groups using the Equality Act 2010.
Over the last decade legislation has evolved in order to place general and specific duties onto public sector organisations. The key duties which have previously been in force are:
Public authorities are legally obliged to promote equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination for service users and staff but we know that various employers have not been consistent in their approach to achieving the principles to underpinning the race, disability and gender duties. The Equality Act 2010 introduced a single equality duty, which replaces the separate ones.
The first PCS race equality strategy (RES) forum was held on 29 March 2011. The purpose of the Forum was to provide black members with an opportunity to endorse the draft RES consultation paper and identify priorities arising from the consultation process. This was open to every black member registered on commix.
PCS RES forum priorities identified by participants were: protecting jobs and public services; tackling under representation (PCS black members); campaigning against the far right and other groups intent on causing racial hatred and social divisions; race personal case management support.
In 2011 elections took place for chair, vice chair and editorial board on the national black members committee, PCS also ran regional black members network elections. PCS has worked to ensure more accurate information on our membership.
The national black members committee has produced a ‘Freedom, Equality and Justice’ magazine including articles about Stephen Lawrence: 10 years on, the August Riots, Hands Off Our DNA, Justice for Jay Abatan, the National Campaign and Black Activist Rising Against Cuts (to which we were affiliated by motion A130). BARAC campaigns against the negative impact of cuts on black workers, service users and communities.
The union’s 2011 anti-racism anti-fascism (ARAF) strategy was designed to ensure that campaigning against the far right took place throughout the year, should engage members more and have running through it a strong educational and commemorative theme.
For the first time we teamed with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) and the response to the Trust’s work was very positive with certain branches really taking the opportunity to commemorate and educate with imaginative events being held in workplaces on the day, 27 January, and displays also being put up in PCS HQ.
In line with A48 and as part of our Make Your Vote Count campaign, PCS members joined mass leafleting in key areas targeted by the BNP, and anti-BNP tabloids, jointly produced with Hope not Hate, were delivered to our members. The BNP were obliterated in places where they had high hopes, such as Stoke-on-Trent; lost all but one of the 268 seats they contested in English council elections and saw their vote collapse in the Welsh Assembly, N Ireland Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections. A 3-in-1 toolkit was also produced giving a step by step guide to branches on what to do when the EDL, SDL or WDL arrange a march in a local area.
Events commemorated in the year included the 20th anniversary of the repeal of the apartheid laws in South Africa and our funding of a film to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street called ‘From Cable Street to Brick Lane’.
We continue to fight against the threat posed by racist and fascist groups, and to counter racism and Islamophobia. PCS supported and mobilised for the Unite Against Fascism/United East End “No place for hate!” demo and was well represented at the one-day conference ‘Celebrating diversity and defending multiculturalism’.
Women form 64% of PCS membership and are more likely to work alternative working patterns, and receive less pay than men. Even though work has been undertaken on the gender pay gap, they may suffer greater job insecurity, face discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. This is why we believe the empowerment of women workers and equal representation within PCS is essential.
The national women’s forum has campaigned on the subject of domestic violence and abortion rights and raised awareness of the issue as instructed in motion A552.
PCS Women magazine was launched this year, and was sent to every woman member – and has received positive feedback. Articles have included part-time workers, women and pensions, female representation, 100 years of women in unions, the national campaign
and the women’s seminar which focuses on campaigning and organising women.
At the 2011 TUC, STUC and Women’s TUC conference, PCS women played an active role and maintained a high profile throughout the conference, as in previous years. They engaged in debates and there was a real sense of unity and determination amongst delegates as speaker after speaker gave support to the TUC anti-cuts campaign and but importantly pushed forward the PCS message that there is an alternative.
PCS women have demonstrated that we need to stand together, now more than ever.
We continue to work with Proud – PCS’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-organised group – to implement A48 (ADC 2010) on tackling under-representation; improving LGBT member participation; developing better communications and links within PCS; and rallying support for LGBT activities.
An 18-month pilot on these objectives has taken place in four areas: Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office, Ministry of Justice
Motion A24 on bullying and harassment, and A25 on the National Blood Service’s ban on blood donations from gay men continue to be implemented via the NEC equality committee with Proud’s input.
PCS has responded to UK and Scottish governments’ consultations on same sex marriage, civil partnership ceremonies on religious premises, government intervention in Europe on religion/belief cases and the Red Tape Challenge. LGBT members gathered hundreds of petition signatures at Prides, including UK Black Pride, on saving the Equality and Human Rights Commission and our equality laws.
Research has been circulated to branches on how the spending cuts impact on LGBT members and the services they access to ensure action is taking place nationally and regionally.
Our annual LGBT seminar was successful with more applications than ever before. LGBT members participated in the press conference style event which was live on Twitter, Facebook and Proud’s online members’ forum. Topics included the cuts, sports and prejudice, bisexuality, anti-fascism and international issues.
New links with PCS’s International Committee means LGBT issues are routinely discussed there. Our TUC LGBT conference motion, written and moved by Proud, concerned protecting LGBT Ugandans and asylum rights generally.
New web pages have been developed about bisexuality, annual LGBT dates and what reps can do to promote and participate in these.
In May 2011 PCS took part in the Hardest Hit March. The United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC), trade unions and major disability organisations organised a march for disabled people, their families and supporters. We protested with one voice outside the Houses of Parliament and made our feelings known about the impact of spending cuts on disabled people.
Motion A26 guidance on the implications of the Archibald case was placed on the PCS website shortly after the judgement and continues to be used where it is appropriate to the facts of the case. We have had some success with these arguments in the past 12 months.
UK Disability History Month (DHM) runs from 22 November – 22 December each year and provides an opportunity to raise awareness of current threats to disabled people, including disability hate crime and the impact of the welfare reform and public sector cuts.
PCS ran an event in December 2011 on disabled people’s rights and to advocate disability equality through celebrating the historical and contemporary struggles and achievements of disabled people globally.
By way of implementing A551, we continue to counter ongoing propaganda and negative workplace attitudes generated by the Coalition government’s deregulatory agenda and spending cuts, which it sees as “easing burdens on businesses”. The government is cutting funding, jobs and services at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), undermining its independence as a statutory regulatory body and weakening our health and safety legislation and protections, including by reducing the number of proactive HSE inspections by a third.
With reps’ input we responded to several government and HSE consultations and reviews e.g. changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR); Professor Löfstedt’s Review and the Red Tape Challenge on health and safety laws; changes to HSE’s costs recovery regime; and HSE’s review to properly implement the European Directive on the control of asbestos at work.
In March in a week of campaigning and parliamentary action, we joined trade unions, Hazards campaign, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) and the Institute of Employment Rights to lobby MPs to counter the government’s ideological assaults. Members were encouraged to email their MPs asking them to sign early day motion 1302 and to attend our debates.
We continue supporting and donating to FACK, the Hazards campaign and Hazards conference, sending a delegation to the latter. Pre-empting a TUC congress motion, our petition there (seeking co-ordinated action and support for HSE) was well-supported.
At workplace level, reps continue to negotiate hard for robust preventative strategies to ensure our workplaces are safer, healthier and protect members’ well-being.
Work-related stress because of the cuts remains one of our biggest concerns. New stress posters and updated guidance have been issued. A union-wide stress survey was carried out with the results informing resources and guidance as necessary. A union-wide survey on workplace temperatures also took place. Guidance updates are being considered by the relevant NEC sub-committees and fora.
PCS health and safety webpages have been updated more regularly with news, campaign and resource items. A specific gender, health and safety page has been created to highlight gender issues with weblinks to key tools and information.
A new leaflet focussing on health and safety, targeted at recruiting new members, has been produced, and a successful one-day seminar linking organising with health and safety took place in Eastern region. We aim to promote this more widely.
We also promoted Workers’ Memorial Day, European health and safety week, and have emphasised how unions make a difference
to workplace and public health and safety.
The union’s major focus on the national campaign in defence of jobs, pay, pensions and public services continues to be reflected in our international agenda. Conference pledged support to our public services colleagues in Wisconsin, USA in 2011 in their fight against the war on jobs, trade union rights and terms and conditions, and messages of support were sent to our colleagues in AFL-CIO (A138).
We continue to promote the union’s many campaigns through Public Services International (PSI) and its European wing, the European Federation of Public Services (EPSU), and play a key part on committees to determine how both organisations operate as part of the UK and Irish constituency. The union’s new European Parliament strategy gives a more systematic framework to our interventions in Europe as we have done with Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assembly. Work is underway to take forward a series of actions to develop our strategy and presence in Europe, including copying MEPs into relevant information on our campaigns and encouraging members’ support.
The union’s presence across global union federations and European industrial federations through groups’ international activities ensures PCS remains active and better represented in areas including taxation, air traffic control, driving standards and
On matters relating to the Middle East and North Africa, PCS has worked with the TUC and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to build links with the emerging new independent trade unions in Egypt, and has continued to support the TUC/PSC boycott of firms complicit in making profits from the Palestinian occupation, wall and illegal settlements (A136). A message of support was sent to the Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisiens (UGTT) congratulating its members role in helping overthrow the brutal regime in Tunisia, and we have participated in events in support of the revolt (A135). PCS is campaigning with the Stop the War Coalition and others against the attacks on civilians in Libya and elsewhere, and through the TUC endeavours to support trade unions across the Middle East and Libya in their struggle for democracy (A544).
PCS continues to promote and support activities on Afghanistan, Colombia, Southern Africa, working closely with ACTSA and Amnesty International UK. PCS has worked with Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC), other trade unions, academics and other interested parties to link up with sister unions in Cuba for their commentary on the changes and circumstances faced by public sector workers in the context of the struggle against the blockade (A137 remitted).
The union hopes to roll out a regionally-based game project – which generates awareness on international development issues such as tax justice, fair trade and decent work – to all regions and devolved areas during 2012. We continue to work with War on Want – along with the Tax Justice Network, promoting the Tax Havens Report by Richard Murphy as part of the union’s tax justice campaign to achieve a properly resourced and fairly administered tax system benefiting the UK and globally.
PCS is now a leading union on green issues. Since ADC 2002, we have built up a firm body of policy on issues including climate change, renewable energy, green reps, aviation and climate jobs. We are taking these forward through our campaigning, organising and bargaining activities.
Following an ADC 2011 motion (A114) calling on the government to subsidise the ‘Green Deal’ energy efficiency programme, in June 2011 we submitted evidence to the parliamentary public bill committee calling for public funding for home energy efficiency measures.
We continue to monitor progress and seek opportunities to intervene on this issue.
As the issue of climate justice – that those least responsible for climate change are suffering its worst effects – is becoming increasingly recognised, the ‘one million climate jobs’ campaign, launched by the UK Campaign against Climate Change in 2009, has become international.
PCS supported the one million climate jobs conference in South Africa in December 2011 which coincided with the UN climate change talks held in Durban. We also sponsored the ‘stand up for climate justice’ UK speaker tour organised by the Campaign against Climate Change in November.
As part of our commitment to climate jobs and renewable energy, PCS supported Friends of the Earth and the renewables industry in calling on the government not to cut the ‘feed-in tariff’ for small scale solar installations, thereby undermining the fledgling solar industry in the UK and up to 25,000 jobs.
Closer to home, the national joint sustainability forum continues to meet quarterly and PCS and Prospect are in discussions with the Cabinet Office around the new sustainability targets for the government estate, the ‘Greening Government Commitments’.
We also gained agreement with the Cabinet Office to pilot joint environmental audits in 10 workplaces and believe this is an important step to securing greater engagement with unions at workplace level. Our network of green reps and activists continues to grow and our second green forum will take place in 2012.
Some of the harshest cuts imposed by the government have been on welfare, with over £20bn of cuts announced. Alongside the cuts – and to seek to justify them – the government has been whipping up hatred against those on welfare.
To counter the attacks on and myths about welfare, PCS published a pamphlet Welfare: An alternative vision. The pamphlet also sought to start a new debate about the sort of welfare state we need today. It was launched at a fringe meeting at ADC in May 2011, with separate launch events in the Westminster Parliament and in Edinburgh.
PCS has also sought to mobilise opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill going through parliament and has highlighted the attack on the social fund, which provides crisis loans to those in acute need.
Throughout the DWP members have been fighting against privatisation and the welfare pamphlet highlights how members have consistently outperformed private and voluntary sector contractors.
A number of motions brought to ADC 2011 referred to constraints on the right to protest and police tactics at demonstrations. In line with motion A49 we urged support for a ban in kettling protesters, supporting Katy Clark MP’s EDM in parliament.
PCS has supported the Defend the Right to Protest campaign, and taken action to defend those engaging in non-violent protest and direct action, who have been treated unjustly, including the mass arrest of UK Uncut protesters after the occupation of Fortnum and Masons on 26 March.
As per motion A45, PCS has continued to highlight the cuts affecting young people (e.g. youth unemployment, educational maintenance allowance, fees, youth services, etc). It was in the context that we responded to the riots that took place in August across London and other English cities.
Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich issued a statement, endorsed by the NEC, which commended the role of the emergency services and stressed the vital role of the public sector in rebuilding communities and keeping them together, under the threat of massive cuts. It also argued that we should look for causes and solutions and not write-off young people.
Arising through the ongoing review of legal services, PCS has increased the resources for supporting members and reps handling employment law issues through 2011 – setting up a new unit to handle legal and personal case support. We continue to look critically at the support offered through our various legal advice suppliers and have established new protocols to deliver the necessary independent legal advice required for compromise agreements. A report was issued to branches in advance of ADC 2011.
Throughout the year we have published a series of articles in View, to raise members’ awareness of the need to make early contact with their local PCS rep when trouble looms and have also distributed to branches the updated Law 2010 guide from Labour Research. The PCS webpages on handling personal case issues have been updated and the new advice unit continues to review how this advice can be supplemented to give greater support to reps.
PCS has continued to offer valuable support to members and their families injured or made ill at work and elsewhere within the UK. We have looked at ways of raising the profile and awareness of these services, as we continue to see members taking their cases to no-win no-fee solicitors and claim farmers. We cooperated with our legal advisers in a mailing to all members earlier in the year and are designing publicity posters for workplaces, as well as increasing the reports of successful cases in View and other PCS publications.
Government plans to limit access to Legal Aid and place tighter controls on conditional fee agreements have significant implications for access to justice and the services that we provide to members and we are closely watching developments and offering support in resisting these changes where they are unhelpful.
PCS Credit Union’s full application for authorisation has been approved by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The Credit Union will be launched in early 2012 across the UK, providing access to savings and credit for PCS members and their families.
Under the PCS+ badge, we continued to offer a range of membership services which were well received and used by members. These also provided a useful income through commissions and advertising.
Our annual ‘Essential guide’ was sent to members with the February edition of View and to new members with their membership card. Copies of the current edition are available from branch secretaries.
This guide sets out all the services and discounts available.