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Make Your Vote Count Candidate’s Question Time 17/04/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

Candidates’ briefing

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is the largest trade union in the civil service representing more than 280,000, members in government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) across the UK. Everyday our members deliver vital public services including tax credits, coastal rescues, benefits, driving licences, national security, pensions, passports and enforcing the minimum wage.

 The Make Your Vote Count campaign has become part of our campaigning approach as we aim to involve as many of our members as possible to challenge candidates standing in elections taking place. We believe it is vital that our members understand what their local candidates think about public services before they vote and we see your participation in candidate’s question time events as an important part of this process. Please see below some background information on our key concerns.

 Pledges and background info

 1.              I pledge to support PCS campaigns against public service job cuts and to ensure quality public services

          are delivered to those  in need.

2.              I pledge to support the PCS campaign for fair pay and a living wage for workers.

3.              I pledge to protect quality public services and work alongside PCS, community organisations and other

           trade unions to ensure that no more public services are privatised, outsourced or mutualised.

4.              I pledge to support the PCS campaign for fair pensions for all; including calling on the government to

           protect public sector pensions, ensure the state pension keeps in line with inflation, that the government    

           addresses pensioner poverty and that companies are prevailed upon to ensure they fulfil their pension

           obligations to staff.

 Job cuts and quality public services

Public services are under threat right across the country and our members in government departments, agencies and public bodies are losing their jobs and the ability to deliver quality services to their communities.

Staff are being cut in Jobcentres, the DVLA, Revenue and Customs and many other government departments as the government cuts its way out of the deficit rather than trying to grow the economy and invest in quality public services. 

 We believe communities across the country are suffering as these essential services are cut and we have seen an unprecedented 18 months of protests and action to stop the government’s cuts and demonstrate there is an alternative to their proposals.

 PCS believes that public services should be provided to those in need, in the case of welfare we believe every individual in need has the right to a decent and dignified standard of living regardless of circumstances.

It is disgraceful that some politicians think that is unaffordable while millionaires and big business avoid their tax responsibilities.

 The coalition government announced £18 billion in welfare cuts in the June 2010 budget and the October 2010 spending review. This means those on welfare, often the most deprived people in society, are paying far more than the banks that caused the crisis.

 PCS members are proud of the work they do in delivering welfare services to the unemployed, sick and disabled, families with children, those on low incomes, and pensioners. Yet, these same staff are low paid, and are themselves threatened with pay and pension cuts, as well as privatisation.

We are asking candidates to support our pledge and our call to stop public service job cuts and ensure that quality public services are delivered to those in need.

 Fair pay and a living wage

Public sector pay has already been frozen for two years, and the chancellor announced in his autumn statement last November that it would be capped at 1% for at least two years beyond this.

The government has also asked pay review bodies to report this summer about the possibility of introducing regional pay. We believe regional or local pay rates would simply drive down wages and further depress local economies that desperately need investment, not more cuts.

 We are concerned that this approach is economically incoherent because it would undermine the government’s stated aim of helping to drive growth and development in the regions.

 Since 1996 when pay was delegated to each department or agency we have been calling for a return to civil service wide pay bargaining as this would reduce the need for over 200 sets of negotiations.

 It would allow the cost savings to be recycled into driving up pay rates and would ensure coherent pay rates across the civil service, agencies and related bodies. Currently for instance a member in one department can earn up to a third more than a member in another department/agency on the same grade.

 Working people across the country are struggling to make ends meet and many are getting involved in living wage campaigns to try and drive up their living standards, such as campaigns in London and Glasgow.

We are currently supporting the investment charity FairPensions campaign, JustPay!, which calls on some of the UK’s biggest employers to pay their staff and contractors a living wage.

 The campaign aims to permanently embed living wage standards in some of the UK’s biggest companies, including MITIE and Capita, where PCS has commercial sector members.Major investors, such as pension funds, union pension funds and City fund managers are calling on FTSE 100 companies to become living wage employers.

 We are asking candidates to support our pledge for fair pay and a living wage for workers.

 No more privatisations, outsourcing or mutualisation of public services

Our members are dedicated to providing high quality services to the public. However, in recent years thousands of civil service jobs have been cut, privatised or outsourced. This has put extra pressure on existing staff and damaged morale.

 Too often these privatisations proposals have led to a decline in our members terms and conditions and even the loss of their job, as private companies put savings over quality public services.

 We firmly believe that privatisation leads to more expensive and less efficient service provision, and presents the public with a more fragmented and less competent service.

 Our members in Jobcentre Plus have consistently outperformed private sector operators in helping people back to work, yet privatisation and outsourcing have increased.

 The government has signalled its intention to open up most public services to privatisation. They are also rolling out a programme of ‘mutualising’ public services.

 Mutuality implies some common interest and suggests consent. In reality privatisation is being imposed on an unwilling workforce.

 PCS has consistently campaigned against public service privatisation, but this is a new threat designed to seduce both public opinion and workers into accepting changes that will reduce accountability, worsen staff terms and conditions, and result in a loss of expertise.

 The trade union and co-operative movements have a long history of working together. We welcome the role that both play in the UK economy – empowering people in the workplace.

 We are therefore asking candidates to back our campaign to keep public services in the public sector and to oppose future privatisations, outsourcing or mutualisations.

 Fair pensions for all

The government want to save £1.8 billion each year on the cost of public sector pensions by making public sector workers pay more, work longer and get less. However the National Audit Office in December 2010 stated that public sector pensions are affordable at this level now and in the future.

 In April 2012 the government intends to impose changes to make public sector workers pay more for a lesser pension.

 Most pensioners are reliant on the basic state pension for the majority of their income in retirement, but it pays below the government’s own poverty line. Disgracefully today there are 2.5 million pensioners living in poverty in the UK.

 Only one in three private sector workers is now a member of an employer-sponsored pension scheme, public sector pensions are under threat, and the state pension is now worth just 15% of average male earnings.

 On the other hand a quarter of all tax relief on pensions, amounting to more than £10 billion annually, goes to the richest 1% in the country.

 We hear about gold-plated public sector pensions, yet the real gilded pensions are to be found in the boardrooms of private companies that have abandoned provision for their workforces.

 Action is needed to secure decent state pensions as the foundation for pensioner income and decent employer-sponsored pension provision for all workers in all employment sectors.

 We are asking candidates to support our campaign to protect public sector pensions and for fair pensions for all.




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