John Moloney is assistant general secretary of PCS, writing here in a personal capacity.
PCS has produced a pamphlet making the case for voting Labour in England and Wales, which has been distributed to members. We don’t want the “vote Labour” position to be passive; the union is using its resources to mobilise members to get out and campaign. We’re targeting 40 seats in particular, either ones which have a large concentration of PCS members living in them, and/or where the Labour candidate has a particular connection to the union, for example two seats where the candidates are former PCS activists.
Each Regional Committee in England and Wales has been asked to mobilise PCS members to canvas, and full-time officers have been asked to volunteer. PCS will also be part of a wider trade union campaign day on 10 December, where unions across the movement will be mobilising to campaign for a Labour vote.
There are many Labour policies and commitments which will have a direct and positive impact on PCS members’ lives at work. Although it wasn’t in the manifesto, Labour has previously committed to introducing national pay bargaining in the civil service. We also welcome the pledge to increase public sector pay by 5%, and to raise the minimum wage to £10, with no youth rates. However, our own policy and demand will continue to be for a 10% pay increase in the civil service, which we’ll continue to campaign for, including industrially if necessary, whoever wins the election.
We also welcome the clause in the manifesto around outsourcing, although we want to push that policy much further. The manifesto says Labour “will end the current presumption in favour of outsourcing public services and introduce a presumption in favour of insourcing”, but committing to end a “presumption” falls considerably short of a firm commitment to end and reverse outsourcing, guaranteeing direct, in-house employment for all currently outsourced workers. That’s the promise made by numerous Labour shadow ministers, including John McDonnell, Laura Pidcock, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and others, when they’ve spoken on picket lines during outsourced PCS members’ strikes, and that’s the position we’ll continue to fight for and demand.
Labour has also committed to ending the restrictions on access to the workplace and the cuts to facility time, as well as to repeal at least some anti-union laws, which will obviously help with our organising efforts, but a left-wing Labour government should go much further and commit to abolishing all anti-union laws and replace them with positive legislation enshrining the right to strike.
That could be crucial for PCS members, as we gear up towards a possible planned national ballot for industrial action on pay in 2020.