Congress notes that the government’s attempts to supress public sector pay have met with resistance from union members. This was most recently demonstrated by the ballot result of PCS members in the Ministry of Justice, announced on 30 August, with 94 per cent voting to oppose a derisory pay offer on a 74 per cent turnout.
We believe that we now urgently need a coordinated campaign for above inflation pay increases across the public sector.
Congress welcomes the pay settlements reached in the public sector during 2018 which have breached the 1 per cent government pay cap, in some instances with extra funding, but notes that inflation (RPI) was running as high as 3.7 per cent in January 2018, and that our members have suffered years of real-terms pay cuts.
Congress notes that following the 2017 general election the issue of the public sector pay cap was at the forefront of political debate and that in September 2017 the chief secretary to the treasury said that the pay cap would be lifted.
Despite this announcement, the government has continued to limit pay increases in the civil service and related areas to between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent. The pay cap has already had a devastating effect on the value of the incomes of our members. PCS research shows the effect of that policy will mean that average civil service pay will have fallen in value by over 20 per cent by 2020.
Congress notes TUC estimates that show public sector workers such as crown prosecutors, NHS specialist dieticians, prison officers, firefighters, nuclear maintenance engineers, teachers and NHS ancillary staff are out of pocket by between £1,000 and £4,000 in real terms (based on CPI).
Congress notes the 85 per cent “yes” vote by PCS public sector members in a statutory strike ballot in July, but that PCS was denied the right to strike because of the threshold for turnout demanded by the Trade Union Act. Congress supports PCS in planning for another ballot next spring.
Congress recognises that pay review bodies in the United Kingdom is a government mechanism to replace collective bargaining for certain groups of employees in the public sector, including the prison service pay review body. Different pay review bodies also cover school teachers, nurses, doctors and other health professionals. It is noted by Congress that the review bodies are supposed to be independent of government when making recommendations after taking evidence from employer and trade unions but unfortunately the review bodies are selected, paid, and follow a remit from treasury and government which has led to pay cuts since 2010 with review bodies adhering to the government agenda.
Congress accepts that the Prison Service Pay Review Body is not an adequate compensatory mechanism for prison officers not having the right to strike and therefore we believe that review body should be abolished in favour of collective bargaining.
Congress notes existing models of national collective bargaining, such as the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services and the Middle Managers’ Negotiating Body for firefighters across the UK.
Congress calls on the General Council to coordinate a public sector pay campaign for above-inflation pay increases for all public sector workers, to include the coordinating of bargaining timetables and pay demands, campaign activities, ballots and industrial action.
Whilst recognising the sovereignty and independence of other trade unions who come under the remit of pay review bodies, Congress further instructs the General Council to explore with the Labour Party and other organisations who support a return to national sectoral collective bargaining.
Mover:Public and Commercial Services Union
Supporter: Fire Brigades’ Union