Activists in the civil service workers’ union the PCS have begun the battle to deliver a solid vote for national strikes over pay.
Workers in government departments—including the HMRC tax office and the Department for Work and Pensions—will vote on action in a ballot lasting from 18 June to 23 July.
They are fighting to break the public sector pay cap, which has locked their annual pay increases at a below-inflation 1 percent for eight years.
PCS activists told Socialist Worker how they’re working to beat the 50 percent turnout threshold demanded by Tory anti-union laws.
Pete Jackson, a union activist in Birmingham, said, “In my branch we’re going to two offices that need work to deliver higher turnouts and holding pay calculator drop-ins.
“That’s where people put their pay into the union’s calculator, which works out how much people have lost under the pay freeze. It works really well.”
He added, “We’re also having a town committee pay campaign launch, and inviting speakers from the UCU and CWU unions to talk about how they delivered strike votes recently.
“Then we’re going to sit down with a map and a plan of all the offices in the city and talk about what needs to be done.”
Some branches have held gate meetings.
Marianne Owens, from the union’s national executive committee, told Socialist Worker town committees were a good way for activists to “look at different offices in a location to see which ones need some extra help in terms of the practical activity.
“So the big offices might have lots of enthusiastic reps in it, but if there’s a small one with only one rep a town committee can support them.
“We should talk to people about what works—building rank and file networks.”
Marianne said the first big focus is the “training sessions” to prepare activists for the ballot, set to take place on 9 and 16 June.
“We’re inviting all activists—all reps and interested members. We want to recruit to the union at the same time because we’ll need lots of enthusiastic new reps.
“You might not be on a branch committee but there’s stuff you can do,” she said.
- Workers at the Acas conciliation service have won more jobs and guarantees of action over workloads and grading following strikes.