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Build the campaign for fair pensions – organise now for ‘yes’ vote 06/03/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

Please see the below article from the PCS website:

15 February 2012

The PCS national executive committee (NEC) has unanimously agreed to consult members on rejecting the government’s offer on pensions and on a programme of action as part of the continuing campaign. If members agree, and if other unions across more than one public sector pensions scheme also agree to take action, the campaign will start with a national joint union strike on 28 March.

The ballot will last for three weeks from Friday 24 February to Friday 16 March. It will be a postal ballot but also have the facility for voting on the internet and by phone. There will be two questions on the ballot paper: a question asking members to support the NEC’s decision to reject the government’s offer on pensions and a question asking members to support the programme of action proposed by the NEC including national strike action with other unions on 28 March.

Five steps to a ‘yes’ vote

Members voted last year in a statutory ballot to take industrial action to defend pensions, jobs, and pay, including strike action and action short of a strike. This ballot is a consultation with members on the next steps in the campaign.

In January the NEC unanimously agreed to reject the government’s offer on a new civil service pension scheme on the grounds that it does not form the basis of an acceptable agreement. The offer includes an increase in the pension age, increased contributions to pay for national deficit, and CPI rather than RPI inflation indexing.

The NEC reiterated the willingness of PCS to attend meetings with the Cabinet Office called to discuss a new pension scheme for the civil service. We will continue to call on Ministers for greater resources, and genuine negotiations on the core issues of pension age, contributions and indexation, in order that a fair settlement can be reached. You can view the government’s offer on the site.

Joint action needed

Meetings have now taken place of unions that have not accepted the government’s ‘heads of agreement’. PCS has sought to achieve agreement on an ongoing campaign over pensions, including an industrial action strategy that will exert enough pressure on the government to bring about further concessions.

It was agreed by the unions that, since an acceptable agreement requires further movement on the core issues; paying more, working longer and receiving less pension, action will be required across more than one public sector pension scheme in order to generate the leverage on the government necessary to bring about a settlement. The NEC has now confirmed this position.

It was also accepted by the unions present at the meetings that, since we are moving forward without, at this stage, the largest unions in the local government and health sectors, Unison and GMB, that a strategy to win a fair settlement to the dispute must involve more action than an isolated national one day strike. Therefore, the unions present agreed in principle that a programme of action would be needed.

Programme of action

If the other unions agree to take action as well, the programme would begin with a coordinated national joint union one day strike on March 28, i.e. prior to the increase in pension contributions taking effect on 1 April, as part of the ongoing campaign. Further action would be coordinated, subject to unions’ internal processes, at each stage by means of planned, regular meetings. The programme would include a number of different forms of action, not just strike action, and might vary between unions depending on the circumstances in each sector:

  • further coordinated national strike days,
  • joint protests and demonstrations on a regional and local basis,
  • joint mass lobbying of Ministers at events and public appearances,
  • joint lobbying of MPs in their constituencies,
  • regional, rolling industrial action,
  • co-ordinated targeted industrial action involving groups of members such as PCS Groups where disputes existed,
  • a joint national protest event on Budget Day, 21 March, may also be organised.
  • maximum unity with unions in the private sector, for example at Unilever.

Position of other unions

In the civil service, Nipsa and Unite will support the programme of action. POA is supportive but are barred from taking industrial action by law. In the education sector, the NUT and the UCU have agreed in principle to the programme of action, as have the smaller teaching unions, and will now consult their members. The FBU is also now moving towards a ballot on industrial action over pensions.

A special NEC meeting on 19 March will consider the result of the consultative ballot and, if there is a positive vote and if other unions across pension schemes have agreed the programme of action, call a national strike for 28 March.

Organise for a YES vote

“Not business as usual”

Building for a massive Yes Yes vote and for strike action on 28 March must be the priority for every PCS rep. All branch activity must focus on organising, campaigning and recruiting to mobilise support for the strike.

  • Briefing sessions have been arranged in every region, which will give an update on: the pension offer; the NEC strategy and campaign for a Yes Yes vote; and launch the new pension calculator. Contact your region for details.
  • Vote Yes Yes leaflets will arrive in every workplace before the ballot opens on 24 February.

Organising and campaigning for action must be the priorities now for every rep. Make sure that you –

  • Hold a Branch Executive Committee meeting to plan activities to support the ballot
  • Plan and arrange all-members meetings
  • Plan and arrange face-to-face leafleting of all members
  • Identify all non-members and ask every non-member to join PCS
  • Build links with other unions and community groups and attend your town committee meeting.


10,000 extra new members joined PCS because of the strike on 30 June and 30 November. When we are seen campaigning on the issues they are concerned about non members will join the union.

While the our campaign has been a brilliant boost to union membership we are still losing about 2000 members every month because of job cuts so all Regions, Groups and Branches must do much more to recruit non members every month. The ballot and lead up to 28 March will be the perfect time to ask every non member to join PCS.

How to plan recruitment

  • Branch Organisers should ensure that recruitment is discussed and planned at every BEC meeting.
  • You need to identify all staff. Members and non members.
  • Ask management for a staffing list, use office email lists, telephone lists and talk to staff to identify them and check if they are union members.
  • Use PCS iMembership to get a printout of all union members in your branch.
  • Check this union membership printout against the staffing information you have gathered and work together as team with the rep in each office to identify all non members.
  • Get each rep to agree to talk to a few non members face to face every month and ask them to join the union.
  • Keep monitoring progress at every BEC meeting.
  • Read or download a copy of the PCS Recruitment guide. The guide gives lots more information on how to run recruitment campaigns.

If you need help your Group Executive Committee or regional office will provide support for you, or you can contact the organising department in PCS HQ.

Thank you for your hard work on the campaign so far. Now the urgent task for every Branch is to build the Yes vote in the ballot.

Mark Serwotka            Janice Godrich
General Secretary       President



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