By Rebecca Anderson The Public and Commercial Services union’s Department of Work and Pensions conference has narrowly voted to accept a pay deal that will mean working worse hours for a pay rise of only one per cent for most members.
Sixty per cent of members will receive the smaller pay rise and others will receive five per cent for up to four years. In exchange for the pay rise, staff will be expected to be available for work between 8am and 8pm and Saturday will become a normal working day. Even for those who get the 5 per cent increase, the pay rise will not cover the increased cost of childcare.
The stormy conference debate culminated in a card vote where 43.5 per cent voted against the deal and 56.4 per cent voted in favour, after the Group Executive Committee claimed that this was the best possible deal.
Members of the union will now be balloted on whether to accept the pay deal, with a union recommendation to vote “yes”. Reports from across the country suggest that the deal is deeply unpopular but it’s possible that this recommendation could demoralise those opposed to it to either vote in favour or simply not vote.
The key to rejecting the deal is leadership. Those PCS activists who oppose the deal can persuade other union members to vote “no” if we can also persuade them that it’s possible to win a better deal. The first step is rejecting the deal and the second is a campaign of industrial action to force the DWP to back down on working hours. It must be a “no” vote of hope forces the GEC to campaign for the deal that DWP members deserve or throws up a new grassroots leadership that will fight.