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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Report on the National ARMS Committee

Held 3 December 2015, PCS Midlands Regional Office
by Steve Ion (based on Draft Minutes)
  1. FINANCE/BUDGET
It was agreed that additional funds be allocated to the following regions: Wales -£400.00, Eastern - £300.00, South West - £100.00. It was specified that these funds would be taken into account in any 2016 allocation, and that the regions should be made aware of this point. It was noted that following these allocations all regions would now be able to plan and hold their AGMS.

AP1: To write to appropriate regions, and to arrange allocation of funds

It was agreed that 2016 diaries to be issued as soon as possible, the regions to be notified about the diaries (including PCS regional secretaries), and that any surplus be donated to the PCS National hardship fund.

AP2: To write to all ARMs and PCS regions.

Recommendation that 2016 funds should include a ‘ring-fenced’ allocation for campaign funds, recommendation agreed.
  1. SECRETARY’S/NEC REPORT
Update on national campaign and PCS staff changes noted.

Lay Tutors briefing discussed, it was agreed that the national Branch secretary briefing be issued to ARMs regions with covering memo.

AP3: To issue BB with memo.

An application for new reps training was discussed and it was agreed that training inappropriate for ARMs reps to attend. It was further discussed the opportunities for mentoring and training to be pursued via the PCS National Education official.

AP4: To contact Karen Foster.

It was reported that an approach had been received by a Cruise travel company offering discount to ARMs members, this had been raised with nationally, and it was agreed that arrangements could proceed.

AP5: To contact Travel Company to open up discussions on reaching an agreement.
  1. STRATEGIC REVIEW
It was noted that the ARMs paper on SMR had been discussed with NECLO, and now submitted to the NEC for their consideration.

AP6: New Appointed ARMs Official to gain report on the NECs position on the ARMs submission.
  1. CONSTITUTION
IT was noted that the change to the ARMs Constitution agreed by a two thirds majority at the 2015 ARMs Annual Forum that nominations for ARMs National Committee posts can only be made by ARMs Regions at Annual or Special General Meetings of ARMs members and must be supported by at least 50% of those members in attendance.
  1. NATIONAL COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
It was agreed that the proposed new ARMs National Committee structure contained in the ARMs response to the PCS Strategic Review means that there is the need to agree postponement of our National Committee election until after our 2016 Annual Forum is held and relevant changes to the ARMs Constitution agreed.

AP7: Newly Appointed Arms Official to write to AGS and NEC to seek agreement for the constitutional point and also the postponement of the elections.
  1. PCS ANNUAL CONFERENCE ARRANGEMENTS 2016
It was agreed that ARMS National Committee seek to have three members invited to ADC 2016, these would staff stall, observe debates and appropriate fringe and offer written reports back to the National committee. Additionally a survey to be issued on ARMs issues to all delegates.

AP8: Newly Appointed ARMs Official to write to GS office for increased invites, and also to Conference arrangements committee for ARMs stall.
  1. ORGANISATION AND MEMBERSHIP
Membership figures were presented, the breakdown of the figures were discussed, it was agreed that further breakdown of the figures was needed.

Steve Ions paper was discussed, it was agreed that a meeting with the National Organiser (or someone appointed by him).

AP9: Newly Appointed ARMs Official to write to National Organiser.

It was agreed that a circular be requested to be issued by HMRC as per the DWP circular issued last year on VES / VER leavers.

AP10: Newly Appointed ARMs Official to write to HMRC Group secretary.
  1. NPC
Bookings for delegates needed. Delegates to be agreed at the March 2016 National committee meeting.

AP11: To arrange booking for hotels and delegates.
  1. COMMUNICATIONS
It was agreed that the ARMs website needed updating, and that the dates of all ARMs regional AGMs needed to be gained.

AP12: To gain the dates of all regional AGMs.
AP13: To review ARMs web pages and content.

It was agreed that an E edition of UP In ARMs would be ready for issue early in the New Year.

AP14: To draft Up In ARMs.

Date of Next Meeting 3 March 2016. 

A guest post by the Shadow Chancellor

Paying tax is something we all must do to live in a civilised society, and tax justice campaigners have for years highlighted tax avoidance and evasion and the need to tighten regulations and enforce the law. As this PCS infographic shows, this has increasingly become more difficult for the HMRC, both with fewer numbers of staff and a revolving door between HMRC and the accountancy firms (gamekeeper turning poacher.) This situation needs to change.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

News updates - from the web

  • BRE briefing paper shows simple changes to the homes of older people could save the NHS over £600million a year - here.
  • Raising women's retirement age: what does it mean for you - here.
  • Energy - Priority Services Register for older and disabled people - here.
  • MPs warn older people will suffer due to delays in care cost cap - here.
  • Which? Elderly care - here.
  • Is the care home market heading for a crash? - here.
  • It's time business stopped peddling lazy, damaging stereotypes of older people -  here.
  • Attendance Allowance is a lifeline for disabled people and must not be merged with social care budgets - here.

Monday, 21 December 2015

AA transferring to local councils

Please see this report in the Guardian:

"Attendance allowance for over-65s to become the responsibility of councils in one of the biggest reallocations of public resources in 25 years".

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

MPs feathering their own nests - petition

MPs and political parties should not be able to profit from any company that takes on public sector work, such as in the civil service, local authorities, police, NHS, fire service, and so on. Nor should they profit from any company involved in the arranging of public sector contracts.

Any shares owned should be sold before taking up post as an MP, and this should also include MPs' immediate families so they do not just transfer them to their partners. At present, many MPs profit out of their own decisions to award contracts.

If you agree with this proposal, please sign this petition.

Chancellor offers "sticking plaster" on care

In last month’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that local councils would be able to raise an additional 2% in council tax in order to pay for social care. Since 2010, the sector has suffered £4.6 billion worth of cuts since 2010 - and campaigners argue this new plan will be nowhere near enough to address the crisis. Already over one million older people no longer get the help they need at home, staff turnover is high, the quality of care is sometimes questionable and there is a distinct lack of dignity. Some councils in poorer areas will struggle to raise sufficient funds and a wider postcode lottery in care will emerge.

Jan Shortt, NPC vice president said: “Anyone associated with the care system will tell you that it simply cannot survive without major reform and all the chancellor has done today it put a sticking plaster over the problem.” The NPC full briefing on the statement is available here.

Taken from the National Pensioners Convention Bulletin for December 2015. To receive copies of the Campaign! E-Bulletin - simply send an email to: info@npcuk.org.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Pensioner winter deaths reach 43900 - NPC

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called on the government to launch a new fuel poverty commission to urgently address the scale of annual winter deaths among the country’s older population. The call follows the publication of shocking official figures showing there were an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in last winter. The figure is the highest number since 1999, with 27% more people dying in the winter months compared with the non-winter months. This is up by 25,700 on the previous year and represents a 140% increase. The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; and in total the figures represent 365 deaths a day or 15 deaths an hour.

The NPC highlighted the scale of winter deaths by staging a black balloon release in various parts of the country. Balloons were released by the NPC in Barnsley, Birmingham, Colchester, Exeter, Milton Keynes, Southampton and Westminster - with all of the events gaining both local and national publicity.

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: "Officials have tried to say that the large increase in winter deaths is due to an ineffective flu vaccine, but even if that were true, it only accounts for a third of the increase in these figures. The truth is many older people are living in poor housing, unable to keep warm and frightened about paying their energy bills.

"We can’t go on every year replaying the same tragic scene; the government should set up a special commission to urgently oversee a programme of insulating homes, building more suitable properties for older people, raising the winter fuel allowance and tackling the excessive profits of the big six energy companies."

Taken from the NPC's Bulletin for December 2015. To receive copies of the Campaign! E-Bulletin - simply send an email to: info@npcuk.org.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Why aren't moderate Muslims doing anything about terrorism?

The answer is quite simple: they are.

Muslim leaders and scholars have consistently denounced Daesh, the Muslim Youth League in the UK has declared an "ideological holy war" against extremism, and even YouTube has even tried to recruit US Muslims to counter extremist content. Here are two other specific examples:

Last weekend a march through London by Muslims for peace and unity was ignored by virtually all of the British media. The annual event is organised by the Husaini Islamic Trust UK who say it is the "largest annually organised Islamic event in Europe".

Mohammed Al-Sharifi, a regular volunteer at the Trust stated: "We are trying to undo people’s misconceptions about Islam: this a multi-faith event and we are trying to promote universal human values."

Read about the demo here.

Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation. Nahdlatul Ulama, or NU, is the largest independent Islamic organisation in the world, with 50 million members, a number equal to 78% of the UK population. It was founded in 1926 to combat the ideological extremist predecessors of Daesh. Its stated goal is to "to spread messages about a tolerant Islam in their respective countries to curb radicalism, extremism and terrorism".

Read about the NU here.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Benn’s speech: demagogic and dishonest

The definition of a demagogue: ‘a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular fears, desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.’

He is the darling of the right wing media today, and basking in the approval of the most right wing Tory government since WWII. The Murdoch Press, Daily Mail and the rest, including right wing Labour, will promote him as the man to replace Jeremy Corbyn. His resort to flag-waving jingoism is the device used by demagogues throughout the ages. Benn’s reference to Labour Internationalism and to the International brigade’s fight against Franco to buttress his support for international capitalism was unscrupulous. He implied that opposition to military action constituted less than total opposition to the monstrosity of Isis. The millions who oppose bombing which will result in the slaughter of the innocents need no lessons from Benn who enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq which unleashed today’s sectarian madness.

I can also report that the Merseyside Pensioners' Association passed a resolution in support of Jeremy Corbyn in his opposition to the bombing. Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy also addressed the meeting outlining the consequences of Tory cuts on the police service.

A call was made for a real campaign against all the cuts being imposed by the Tory and implemented by Labour Councils all over the country.

Tony Mulhearn

British pensions "worst of any major economy"

Workers in the UK will have the worst pensions of any major economy and the oldest official retirement age of any country, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The typical British worker can look forward to a pension worth only 38% of their salary, once state and private pensions are combined. The Paris-based thinktank said on Tuesday that this compares with above 90% in the Netherlands and Austria and 80% in Spain and Italy.

Click here for the full story.

Campaign Report - ARMS Executive Committee Meeting 17 November 2015

1. October UN Older People’s Day

This year, a number of NPC regions and local groups took part in the UN Older People’s Day to highlight the need for a better state pension for both existing and future pensioners. Reports show that where activities took place, they were successful, but there was a sense that slightly fewer groups were involved than last year. These events, along with 1 February Dignity Action Day, annual Autumn Lobby and the June Pensioners’ Parliament need to be seen as part of a calendar of campaigning taking place throughout the year, which regions and groups adopt and start to support.

2. NPC Lobby of Parliament 4 November 2015

This event was well attended, with around 130 people taking part in Committee Room 14. There was an excellent line-up of speakers, including the new shadow pension minister. We will of course schedule in a similar event for next year.

3. 1st February 2016 Dignity Action Day – “Better Care Now”

A detailed briefing has been issued to NPC regions outlining the plans to make next year’s event bigger and more eye-catching with some PR stunts. Using the theme “Better Care Now” we hope to link with care workers and their unions to highlight the demand that dignified care comes from have staff that also have dignity. In due course, a national leaflet will be produced for groups to use on the day. More details to follow.

4. Meeting with the BBC

Kelvin Hopkins MP, along with the general secretary and president met with BBC’s director of strategy, James Purnell. It was agreed to write to the BBC head of policy as well as to the secretary of state for culture and his opposite number. This has been done and we are awaiting replies. A copy of the letter sent to the BBC can of course be circulated to the EC for information.

ADDENDUM – The BBC has played into the government hands by agreeing to take on payment from the Department of Work and Pensions of licence fees for the over 75s, a cost of £600,000 plus - 20% of the BBC budget

BRIAN HERBERTSON

5. Comprehensive Spending Review

The Chancellor will give is Comprehensive Spending Review statement on 25 November. It is widely anticipated that in it he will outline the scale of the cuts in public funding. In particular, he is also expected to announce the figure for the new state pension next April, and pressure is growing to see whether or not any money “saved” by delaying the care cap will be redirected into the social care system. The NPC will issue a public response and briefing and circulate it to the EC as usual.

6. Excess Winter Deaths/Black Balloon Protest 

On the day of the CSR, the Office for National Statistics will also release the provisional excess winter death figures for winter 2014/15. Given that the previous figures were almost an all-time low, it is highly likely the number will be higher this time. To mark this announcement, the London region has ordered a number of black balloons and at least half a dozen NPC regions will be releasing them at 12 noon on the day at different locations across the country.

7. Current issues 

TPA comments
At this year’s Conservative Party conference, the research director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance made a statement at a fringe meeting calling on the government to immediately cut universal pensioner benefits. His claimed this could be done without any political cost because some of those pensioners affected would have died by the time the election was due in 2020, and moreover even if they were still alive, many of them would not remember it was the Conservative party that had taken their benefits away. The NPC called for him to apologise – which he did – but whilst he said his remarks had been “crass and ill-judged” he still felt the benefits should be cut. His comments of course echo the ongoing attempt to divide the generations.

New State Pension
The Work and Pensions Select Committee is currently calling for evidence on the new state pension. The NPC will be making a submission. In addition, a revised edition of our pamphlet, For What It’s Worth will also be available shortly, containing additional information about the impact of the new state pension on tomorrow’s pensioners.

Triple Lock now “too expensive”
Following the publication of September inflation and earnings figures, we now know that the basic state pension (for those with a full contribution record) will rise by 2.9% (average earnings) because under the triple lock arrangement this is higher than the 2.5% guarantee or the -0.1% CPI figure. This will raise the full basic state pension by £3.35 a week and £2 for many women who rely on their husband’s contributions for their pension. It also means that the second state pension and any occupational pensions that is not linked to RPI, will be frozen for the year. Despite this, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has claimed the triple lock is now too expensive and should be scrapped. This will now clearly be an area on which to keep an eye – especially as both the Conservatives and Labour were committed to the triple lock in their election manifestos.

NPC and social media

As an acknowledgment of the fact that the NPC must increasingly connect with younger generations, we are seeking to develop our presence on both Twitter and Facebook. However, we need more and more people to follow us and like our pages. It would be useful if affiliates could therefore publicise our details across their members as well as other groups with which they may have links. The details are:

8. Diary dates
1 February 2016 – Dignity Action Day
14-16 June 2016 NPC Pensioners’ Parliament

Saturday, 28 November 2015

NATS sell-off a security risk

PCS has grave concerns over the security of our skies as the chancellor, in the spending review, resurrected plans to sell off the government's share in the National Air Traffic Service.

Recent speculation over the sell-off of NATS, the UK's main air navigation service provider, became a reality when George Osborne announced that the government is going to explore the sale of its 49% shareholding in NATS in his autumn statement and spending review on Wednesday.

In 2011, the debate over such controversial plans was eventually shut down following outcry at the prospect of the UK losing control of its own airspace, potentially to an overseas owner. Both PCS and our sister union Prospect argued that a full sale would lead to greater instability with an increased emphasis on profit and short term dividends coming into conflict with NATS safety and other duties.

PCS NATS section president Jacqui Nicholls said: "If ever there was a case against the privatisation of a vital public service, it is NATS.

"Running control of the airspace for profit is a very big threat to safety and security. PCS’ NATS section will now be looking to meet in early January to relaunch our campaign to stop the sale of our skies."

From the PCS website.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Don't Bomb Syria - petition & demo


Lobby your MP to vote against UK military action in Syria. Click here.

Union action updates

  • MOD: nearly 1 in 3 civilian staff to lose jobs under defence review - more info.
  • HMRC: sign the petition to oppose HMRC office closures - more info.
  • HMRC Bootle: have a look at the Bootle HMRC Facebook page.
  • Land Registry: Government trying to sell it off again - more info and petition.
  • DVSA: driving examiners strike to escalate - more info.
  • Hovis closure: statement by BFAWU (Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union).
  • NHS: provisional dates for junior doctors' strikes are Tue 1 Dec & Wed 16 Dec.

Members benefits news

The PCS free legal helpline

The PCS free legal helpline gives you immediate access to legal advice from one of the UK’s largest law firms, Slater and Gordon.

With more than 90 years’ experience, the firm’s reputation is built on the range of expertise offered by its partners and staff and its mission is to give people, including PCS members, easier access to world class legal services. What advice is available?
  • Family law 
  • Consumer law
  • Criminal law 
  • Probate matters 
  • Neighbour disputes 
  • Other legal matters (apart from employment or personal injury). 
Who can use this service? PCS members, their spouse, partner and dependent children. CALL 0800 916 9066 (service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year).

 

Save up to 55%* off your pet policy

We know your pets are like family, that’s why pet-insurance.co.uk offers hassle-free insurance that looks out for you and your loved one.

We’re proud to help pet owners secure that little extra peace of mind, so you and your best friend can look forward to the future.

Benefits include up to £4,000 in vet fees and £1.5 million public liability. With introductory and multi-pet policy discounts you could save up to 55% with cover levels starting from as little as £6.55† for dogs and £3.37† for cats, helping you cut the costs in protecting your pet.

Visit our website or give our friendly team a call on 03300 243 877.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Celebrating resilience


An exhibition organised by PCS National Gallery strikers
One year on from our last exhibition, and after 111 days of strike action, PCS National Gallery strikers have organised a new exhibition with the theme RESILIENCE. The exhibition at PCS HQ Clapham will feature work by PCS members responding to the strike, as well as pieces by campaign supporters, plus art works, banners and posters made during the strike.

Exhibition opens: Wednesday 11th November at 6.30pm in PCS HQ Clapham. Join us for an evening to celebrate our successes and our resilience

Event details on Facebook - click here.

Exhibition opening times: 12th to 22nd November, on Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm.

Venue: PCS HQ Clapham, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.

Directions: the PCS office is next to Clapham Junction station reached by trains every few minutes from Waterloo and Victoria.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Political Fund Ballot

ARMS members: it's nearly the deadline. Make sure you return your vote. For more info, click here.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

"Unlawful, unwarranted and unworkable."

A recent anti-austerity demo
That's how Steve Cavalier, the chief executive of Thompson's Solicitors, described the Trade Union Bill to MPs on the Trade Union Bill Committee yesterday. Read more of what he said here.

Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is behind the bill that plans to ban strikes by key public sector workers unless they are supported by at least 40 per cent of all of those eligible to vote. But in May's general election, he himself was supported by just 38.3% of the 74,000 people eligible to vote in his Bromsgrove constituency. Like most Tory MPs, he wouldn't have reached the threshold he is setting for trade unions.

Every Lidl helps ...

Lidl is getting great press right now for paying local staff living wage salaries in the UK and Ireland, but did you know there's a campaign to support workers in Lidl's supply chains to get fair pay too? The company said recently that it's developing an action plan to ensure living wages are paid to workers in its supply chains, and will share details on October 27.

Every extra petition signature now could make a difference!

Please add your name to the Lidl petition and share it widely so the company continues to feel the pressure. Click here to sign.

Thank you.

Yes, they really are the nasty party

"We have become one of the most unethical nations in the West, where slick presentation, propaganda and incessant spin make their own realities."

If you need more evidence that the Tories are not just misguided but otherwise fundamentally decent people, please have a look at this article in The Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Pensioners pay 11% of UK income tax

It's been estimated that the average pensioner pays £3,285 each in income tax every year, giving a total of £17.5 billion a year, which represents a surprising 11% of all the income tax collected in the UK. To make things worse, there's a very real risk that many of them are paying far more income tax than they should.

Financial journalist Sarah Coles suggests five ways of cutting pensioners' income tax bills - click here.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bad pension news for 1000s of women

Terrible news for women set to hit state pension age in the first few years after April 2016: there's a serious risk you won't be entitled to the pension you're expecting. The new state pension introduced at that point was touted as a 'flat rate pension' which was expected to deliver £151.25 to all new pensioners. However, only a small minority of them will get the full pension in the first years of operation - including exceptionally few women. In fact, in the first year of operation only 37% of those retiring meet the requirements.

Click here for more details.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The PCS Samba Band

The PCS Samba Band will be playing at the "YES to Workers Rights, NO to Austerity" march on the Conservative Party conference on Sunday 4th October in Manchester. If you are interested in joining the band they are holding a rehearsal on:

Sunday 27 September 2015.
1pm to 4pm.
Greenfish, 45 to 50 Oldham Street, Manchester city centre (near Piccadilly Gardens).

All equipment will be provided and the tuition and rehearsal is free.

PCS members, members of other unions and anti-cuts organisations are all welcome (but will be marching under the PCS name and colours).

For more information please contact: Dave Vincent on 0161 240 5129 or email dgvincent@hotmail.co.uk

Young versus old - what really causes wealth inequality?

The popular notion that wealthy baby boomers are hoarding the country’s wealth in retirement, at the expense of younger generations, is wrong, according to a new report from the TUC. It acknowledges that today’s young people will be poorer than their parents, but says the answer is not to cut pensioner benefits.

The report into wealth inequality attacks the "myths that all pensioners are rich and that reducing older people’s benefits would be a solution to young people’s problems", and warns that "growing wealth inequalities across generations" are the real problem.

Impoverishing one sector of society as a way of helping another is not a contribution to social justice, and ignores the fact that wealth is moving upwards away from both young people, workers and pensioners alike. 

You can see the report here, and an article about it in The Independent here.

Friday, 14 August 2015

National Gallery dispute update

A message from the PCS Culture Sector President:

Dear Supporters,

The National Gallery has now appointed the private company Securitas to run their security and visitor services but the PCS campaign to stop privatisation continues with staff going on a all-out strike from today (11 August 2015).

APPEAL FOR URGENT SUPPORT FOR THE ALL-OUT STRIKE ACTION
The National Gallery have decided to bring forward the date to sign the contract with Securitas before the new director takes up office so we have brought forward the date of our all out strike which is now starting on 11 August. PCS members are intent on continuing to fight against the privatisation plans and to demand guarantees about their future. Please join our events:

ALL OUT STRIKE FROM TUESDAY 11 AUGUST
Picket line every day 9-11am plus Friday 5-6.30pm

SOLIDARITY SOCIAL FRIDAY 15 AUGUST 6.30pm
Silver Cross Pub, Whitehall, London

PICK A DAY- PICK A PAINTING!
We are inviting trade unions or campaigns to adopt a day of strike action during August. If you cannot come to the picket line please show your support in other ways. Strikers will help adapt a suitable painting from the National Gallery collection to help publicise your solidarity. See the choices different campaigns and unions have chosen here:
  • Wed 12 August 2.30-3.30pm: Equity
  • Thurs 13 August 9-10am: London Universities and college unions (Unison and UCU)
  • Fri 14 August 5-6.30pm: PCS London DWP
  • Fri 14 August 5-6.30pm: Disabled People Against Cuts
  • Sat 15 August 9-11am: London council workers (Unison)
URGENT REQUEST FOR FINANCIAL HELP
Thank you so much for your support so far. We are still appealing for help to raise sufficient funds to ensure that National Gallery strikers can afford to keep fighting.

A collection sheet can be downloaded if you want to organise a fundraiser or you can donate via PayPal. There are more ways to donate on our blog.

THE FUTURE OF ARTS AND CULTURE
Our campaign is part of a bigger fight to preserve access to art & culture as a public service. Other museum workers are also fighting the impact of budget cuts across the country. Please sign their petitions in solidarity:
All the best,

Clara Paillard
Culture Sector President

Friday, 7 August 2015

Tell your MEP: vote against TTIP this week

The TTIP vote that got delayed a few weeks ago might finally happen. MEPs across Europe will recommend the parts of the deal they do and don’t like.

The good news first: thanks to people power, a huge majority of our UK MEPs are now against one of the worst parts of TTIP. That’s the part that would allow corporations to sue the government if they don’t like our laws. Let’s make sure they follow through by voting the worst parts of TTIP out. Petition here.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

FDA poaching PCS grades

The FDA is desperately trying to attract PCS members at higher executive officer and senior executive officer grades. FDA is acting in clear contravention of TUC rules by effectively seeking to ‘poach’ members for whom PCS has bargaining and recognition rights and, conversely, seeking to recruit members for whom the FDA does not have bargaining rights.

In May this year the FDA decided, without any consultation with PCS, that they would begin this poaching exercise. PCS has a professional and managers' association for members in management grades.

The full story is on the PCS werbsite here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Say no to a Thatcher museum

If the Tories want a museum to the most detested Prime Minister in modern history (although it is perhaps only a matter of time with Cameron), then they should fund it from their own bloated bank accounts. But preferably, not at all.

If you agree, please sign this petition.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Independent pay review for the Civil Service

The Civil Service used to have independent pay review. It was abolished in, I think, 1981 by the Thatcher regime because they didn't like the rises it had recommended. There has been no orderly system of determining Civil Service since then. Since 2010, many public sector salaries have been set by pay freezes and arbitrary caps. This petition proposes that an independent body be established to wholly review and set salaries to reflect inflation, housing cost rises, and market rates. This will bring them in line with MPs.

At the time of writing, it has 3850 signatures. At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition, and at 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

To reach the petition, please click here.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

TUC march & rally to Tory Conference

As you may know, the Conservative Party conference will be taking place in Manchester from 4 to 7 October 2015, and the TUC are organising a national march and rally, which is set for Sunday 4 October 2015.

The PCS North West Regional Centre (NWRC) is exploring the provision of coaches to Manchester from Blackpool, Preston and Liverpool. Once arrangements for the demo have been confirmed, NWRC will formally request details of those definitely planning to attend the march and rally, via a further NW Briefing. In the meantime, NWRC is asking branches to consult their members and reps in order to gather these details and help facilitate the organisation for the event.

Details of coaches and how to book a seat will be posted here when they're available. Watch this space!

Greece and the 'caring capitalist' delusion

It is with more sorrow than anger that I think the action of Syriza’s leading team, around Alexi Tsipras, in accepting the demands of the Troika have betrayed the confidence of workers, pensioners, the unemployed and the poor, who voted by 70%-80% in favour of No in the working class neighbourhoods and cities. They have undermined the hopes of the anti-austerity movement all across Europe, who saw the stand of the Greek workers as a beacon.

Their belief that they could persuade the billionaire class in Europe that there was a better way on the basis of ‘good’ capitalism when the neo-liberal agenda is to crush every gain made by the working class since WWII was catastrophically false.

Syriza should have rejected all austerity and adopted a socialist programme. This would include refusal to pay the debt; controls on capital flows; for a state monopoly of foreign trade; the nationalisation of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, under democratic workers' control and management; jobs for all, with a living wage, and free, quality health, education and welfare. If the result was a break with the neo-liberal EU, then so be it.

However the last word will be with the Greek working class. It is still not too late for them to tell Tsipras the answer is still NO.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

News and a petition from the PCS website

  • Michael Cook, chair of the PCS DfE Branch, was sacked under a performance management process within a year of his retirement - here.
  • PCS members working at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales are being urged to vote yes in a ballot for strike action in a dispute over the removal of premium payments for working weekends or anti-social hours - here.
  • PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has recorded a video to stress the need for members at the DVLA contact centre to vote yes for action in a dispute over Saturday pay - here.

Attack on trade unions - sign the petition

If these proposed rules were appled to all ballots, we would be left with:
  • No police commissioners. 
  • No directly elected mayors. 
  • Almost no local councillors. 
  • Almost no MEPs. 
  • A seriously reduced House of Commons. 
Mark Serwotka makes it clear that the anti-trade union bill is an attack, not just on unions, but on society. The full text of his argument is here.

Sign the 38 degrees petition here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

PCS strikes updates

Universal Credit dispute:

The talks between PCS and Universal Credit (UC) management last week broke down without an agreement. As a result PCS has called for strike action on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st July 2015 at the Glasgow and Bolton service centres. More details here.

National Gallery dispute update:

PCS members at the National Gallery are set for another 6 days' strike action on 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 22 July, with more likely to follow if the gallery is unwilling to negotiate in good faith about PCS's alternative plan. More details here.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Budget 2015 - an assessment

You may find this assessment of the budget by Age UK of interest: click here.

The PCS response to the budget is here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Budget Day Protests

Find a protest near you here.

Pensioners Parliament 2015

16 to 18 June 2015 in Blackpool - by Tony Mulhearn
  • March to Rally: speakers Care Workers Doncaster out for 90 days. Queen singer supported them received national recognition, eventually secured settlement by their action
Sessions:
  • The NHS and privatisation: speakers from Unite and GMB, Rhianna Hazam. Excellent presentations confirmed the wholesale assault on the NHS. Unite speaker particularly clear and incisive. 
  • Making Transport accessible. Good discussion with suggestions on improving transport network and making provision for elderly users. Conclusion that transport integration only possible under public ownership. 
  • One of the speakers highlighted an interesting statistic: in 2010 2.5million pensioners voted Tory and 3million voted Labour. 
  • In 2015 2.5m voted Labour and 3m voted Tory. 
  • Cameron guaranteed the triple lock where as Balls in 2013 stated he would cap pensions.
  • Perhaps we need to analyse that at a future meeting. 
Last Day: 
  • Where next after general election. CWU speakers Dave Ward and a speaker from a research organisation gave interesting speeches. Again a vigorous discussion. With the general feelings expressed that the pensioners movement is up for the struggle. Dot Gibson summed up the feelings of the gathering of about 800 people when she called for a united struggle against the attacks on pensioners services and also called for building the pensioners movement, particularly its finances as it is getting increasingly difficult to meet the financial demands of paying for the Parliament and the conference which will take place next year. 
  • Merseyside was well represented. Speakers at the sessions were myself, Julie, Terry, Ann and Margaret, who got in twice in one of the sessions. 
  • Altogether a worth-while Parliament with Merseyside making its mark.