The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 28th July 2017

PCS launches ballot on pay

PCS UNION members across the country are suffering because of the one per cent public sector pay cap and the union wants mass support for a new campaign to urge Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond to lift it in the autumn budget.

The national executive of the biggest civil service union in the country agreed when it met last week to hold a consultative ballot on pay in advance of the budget in November, to ask members what action they would support, including industrial action, to break the cap, and will agree timings when it next meets in September.

Strong support for the campaign in the ballot will galvanise the campaign to break the one per cent pay cap so that we can tell the Chancellor in advance of the budget that PCS members need a pay rise.

In the meantime the union is supporting the TUC’s campaign of action on pay and it is talking to other unions about coordinating campaign activities to mobilise members to break the cap. At the TUC Congress in September PCS will be calling for a united campaign of activity across the public sector to break the pay cap, including a national demonstration and possible coordination of national strike action. PCS will also support a joint union pay demonstration in London on 12th October.

To keep up the pressure on the May government, which is weak and divided, especially on the issue of pay, PCS is taking a number of actions over the summer aimed at breaking the cap.

On Monday 31st July members in Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will hold lunchtime protests against the pay cap. Other protests are planned involving other departments on pay day next month and at the end of September.

Seven years of pay restraint, including the ongoing cap, have been highly damaging for many public sector workers. Research commissioned by PCS shows that since the pay cap has been in place, the value of average pay in the civil service has fallen by up to 9 per cent against inflation; if the pay cap continues until 2020, as the last Tory government had originally proposed, average civil service pay will have fallen in value by more than 20 per cent.

Civil servants’ pay has fallen way behind levels of inflation by about 17 per cent over the last 10 years and many members are struggling to get by, pay their bills and feed their families.

Civil service pay increases have also been slashed through the withdrawal of salary progression through grades. Government policy has also impacted on take-home pay by increases to the contributions that people pay into their pension scheme and National Insurance contributions — adding to the huge strain on PCS members and their families.

The general election result has changed the dynamics of the Westminster government, meaning that it’s more likely that opposition parties can keep up the pressure on cuts to public services, including the pay cap, and have raised the need to end austerity up the political agenda. A number of Tory backbench MPs have highlighted the issue of public sector pay as an important issue for voters in the election. Unexpectedly, a number of cabinet ministers have raised the possibility of ending the cap. It is critical that we do all we can to use the next few months to lift the cap and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and their families.