After the Pay Ballot: Three Ideas for Winning Next Time

Pay campaign must build

Pay campaign must continue: Three ideas for moving forward

 Our UK civil service members voted by 4-1 in favour of strike action, but the turnout, at 47.7% is around 3,000 votes short of the necessary 50% legal threshold.

Hundreds of activists that delivered the highest turnout in a PCS national ballot ever and I pay tribute to their dedication. They’re a real credit to PCS. So let’s be proud of our deep organising work in many parts of the union. 

However, the result reveals some shortcomings in our workplace organisation that can now be tackled by combining technology and workplace activity to deliver a higher turnout in future ballots.

It is for the NEC and ADC to decide on how the pay campaign continues. If elected AGS, I will contribute to the debate with three proposals:


1. Investment in long term new digital organising tech


The organising app was clearly a success, as was our callhub phone banking system. Let's invest in these technologies for the long term and give reps and branches control over their own structure tests, which they can run locally. Let's always assume 'positive intent', the idea that every single PCS member or rep is always doing the best they can with what they have. If there are gaps in knowledge skills or training, we must address these as an organisation, and build local use and confidence in these technologies. We should also explore how we expand these platforms for use in improving participation in democratic internal elections, motions and AGMs. 


2. A coordinated lobbying political campaign over the trade union act


The restriction to postal ballot is a direct intent in the anti-union law to block union democracy.  It is outrageous in a digital age that trade union democracy is held back. Shockingly, 1 in 16 items of mail goes missing in the postal system. Access to post-boxes and post offices have been stripped from our communities by the Tories. The housing crisis means that many people will change addresses several times in the course of their employment. Running any ballot by post is a logistical nightmare. As well as pursuing the legal challenge through the International Labour Organisation (ILO), let's develop a political strategy to lobby MPs on allowing workplace and online balloting on democratic grounds. 


3. Explore internal restructuring of organising. 


Given that there are branches, including many in Scotland, that achieved phenomenally high turnouts, we need to review how we allocate our organising resource towards areas of the union where there are organising needs. Let’s consider, in national deployment periods, allowing teams of organisers to be deployed outside their management hub. Concentrating our organising resource where it is most needed can assist and improve turn outs dramatically. From day 1 of any possible ballot preparation work, the national organising unit centrally and strategically could lead deployment teams into weaker areas by employer and site. This “sectoral” approach would put all organiser staff onto one 'stream' of organising where it is needed on a national and group basis until our goals are achieved.


lynn henderson