The Public and Commercial Union (PCS) has announced that its members have voted overwhelmingly to engage in industrial action but will be unable to do so due to the government’s anti-union laws.
85.6% of votes were cast in favour of industrial action to protest the drop in real pay experienced by many Union members but due to the fact the turnout was only 41.6% any strike would be deemed illegal due to laws brought into effect last year.
This was the highest yes vote, for a strike, and turnout in the history of the Union with 59,285 members voting. Turnout must exceed 50% for the vote to be able to force a strike.
General Secretary Mark Serwotka was disappointed with the result commenting on the anti-union laws he said:
The government’s laws are undemocratic, they are not applied to anyone else in society… the government may take short term satisfaction, however our message is this campaign will continue you deserve a above inflation pay rise and we are determined to keep campaigning to get that for you (members)
Commenting on the level of pay and how the Union hopes to influence this he continued:
You and your family deserve better from this government, this vote has send the strongest possible message to the government to treat you better
He emphasised the growing strength of the union due to the campaign in a video message to members.
The industrial action was to try and force the government to give workers a pay rise above the level of inflation.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
This vote should have been another clear sign to this government that the public sector will no longer stand for declining wages, instead, we witness a government that stands on the wrong side of the fight against workers in this country. The new anti-union laws are undemocratic and wrong, yet another factor that tips the balance of power away from the worker towards corporate/state power.
The right to strike is a right that should never be infringed, it should be viewed in the same way we view the right to vote in elections. Having turnout thresholds only serves to weaken workers’ rights and union power. No other votes have such conditions.
The aim is to keep unions powerless, and when unions are powerless workers are powerless. This is an example of government policy deliberately stagnating workers’ wages. Let us not forget Unions won us our weekends, eight hour days, sick pay, paternity leave and more and in this day and age serve to increase wages for the entire population, not limited to their members, and help reduce the gender pay gap.
The repeal of anti-union are needed and the public sector desperately needs a pay rise.