PCS Union Midlands Regional Newsline Autumn 2014

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“At Sparkhill Job centre plus on strike day we had 25
pickets, cooked pakora breakfast, Janice Godrich came to
visit and we got on local radio and news programmes. There
were more people on the picket line than crossed it, and a
further 50 people were on strike.
We haven’t always been this successful! - Staff in the
office are, like everybody else, fed up with our pay falling in
real terms every year. As we told the press most of us struggle
to get by at the end of each month. But to be honest this
wasn’t the key issue in delivering the picket line. The daily
grind at work, the constant demands for change, the
increasing pace of work, insufficient training and many other
issues came together. We have held car park meetings over
pay and over the digitalisation of jobcentres. PCS members in
our office want to be listened to.
The other key change was when a newish member of
the union decided they would join the picket, and got their
friends to agree as well.
Another member offered to cook pakora for breakfast,
so we started rounding up cooking facilities, a gazebo, flags.
As the word spread that the picket was going to be a party
more and more people told us they were coming. This had the
impact of persuading some people who were considering
working to stay away. We sent the PCS President, Janice
Godrich, a message on facebook inviting her to breakfast and
when she confirmed this further lifted the mood.
We had an excellent morning. We found our voice.
The next day in the office was excellent as well. Everyone
was smiling. Several more people promised to join the next
picket. More people have joined the union, taking us to
about 90% density. As we face more battles, both nationally
and locally, we now know that we will stand together. “
Sparkhill Job Centre Reps

Midlands Regional Newsline
Autumn 2014
A new team has been
formed in the Midlands to
assist branches and work-
places on the switch to
direct debit.
Along with the national
campaign, the switch to
direct debit, is the number 1
priority of the union.
Although our team has
been given a specific list of
workplaces to support from
the bargaining groups in the
union, please do get in touch
if you need publicity
materials for your workplace
or advice.
Just a few weeks in, we feel
we have helped workplace
reps to make some real
To highlight a few:
 Branch reps in CMEC
Dudley have increased the
numbers of DD switches
from 22% to 51%. With
over 600 members in the
workplace this is an
excellent development.
 In Reddich DWP the DD
team have assisted
Worcester branch to
recruit and train a new
workplace rep and
following a visit, increase
the percentage on DD
from 14% to 51%.
 Leicester Pensions, Child
Maintenaince and JCP are
roaring ahead with 61%
 Dozens of members came
to a workplace meeting
organised by reps in
Walsall Pensions to
discuss the switch. Hard
work and meticulous
follow up has maintained
the momentum bringing
up the percentage from
29% to 65% switched.
Wherever we go reps tell
us that our visit gives them a
boost. Visits give members
an opportunity to meet us.
This often results in
identifying new activists, the
recruitment of new
members and provides an
opportunity to renew and
refresh the relationship with
the Midlands Region. This
includes our equality
networks, unionlearning for
members and activist
training for reps.
Progress is being made
everyday but clearly we
cannot be complacent. We
urge all reps to make this a
PCS Midlands DD Team
Andrew Lloyd, Geoff Dexter,
Paul Martin, Bob Barron
0121 643 4342

I am Paul Martin, and I
have recently started
working for PCS in the
Midlands region. Prior to
starting here, I was a civil
servant working for the
Independent Living Fund in
Nottingham – which
supports the independence
of nearly 20,000 severely
disabled people in the UK –
a public service which, sadly,
the Government decided
can no longer be afforded
and will close in June 2015.
Since September this
year, I’ve been
administering the activities
of the Direct Debit Field
Team across the midlands
region. The team, which
comprises regional secretary
Andrew Lloyd, Geoff Dexter,
Bob Barron and myself have
been working flat-out on the
project since then.
Working with PCS groups
and reps at branch level,
PCS have identified some
key, target workplaces in
the region. Alongside reps
on the ground, we have sup-
ported activities like lunch-
time stalls, member meet-
ings and one-to-one chats,
which in turn, has meant a
significant number of mem-
bers signing up to DD right
there and then!
Signing up for DD couldn’t
be simpler. You can do it
online, via the PCS website,
the whole process takes less
than two minutes.
Alternatively, and equally
quickly, you can sign up by
free-phone on 0800 317
464. And for those that
want to, switch-over can be
completed by free-post –
see your local rep for a
The withdrawal of check-
off represents nothing short
of a vicious and cynical
attack on PCS, on its
members and our ability to
represent you in the
workplace and campaign
effectively on your behalf.
We should all be aware
just how vital the success of
the DD switch-over
campaign is to the future of
the PCS union. Your union
membership is at stake.
Make the DD switch-over
your priority for today. -
and tell your colleagues.
New Midlands DD—team formed to support workplaces
Welcome to Paul
Martin, new office


| national insurance no. | sort code | account number no. |

You can normally find this on your pay slip
Any queries call 0800 317464

Andrew Lloyd
PCS Midlands
Regional Secretary
What a massive month we
have had in terms of action
and activities, more here in the Midlands than anywhere
As well as the brilliant response to the strike action on
the 15th October, the 6 PCS buses from the region to
support the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay rise’ march on 18th
October in London, we have had the NHS march passing
through many towns and cities of the Midlands.
On top of this we had the TUC Hard up festival in
Birmingham. I estimate that we had over 250 PCS members
attending. In addition to local activists, members travelled
from a number of other PCS regions. This included the
fantastic North West PCS Samba band, to whom we owe a
big thank you. They certainly gave us an even bigger
PCS played an integral role in supporting the Birmingham
Hard Up festival. More than this, it was through a PCS
motion that the event happened at all.
I know all members will share my view that it was
fantastic to have the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka
present and speaking alongside Owen Jones and other
General Secretaries. You can see Mark’s speech to the
festival and get a real flavour of the day by visiting our
youtube channel at www.youtube.com/pcsmidlands
All reps and branch delegates will get another chance to
hear the latest on the PCS national campaign and the DD
campaign when Mark speaks at a Midlands Regional
Commiittee at 2PM in the PCS regional office in
Birmingham on Thursday 20th November. To guarantee a
seat at the meeting make sure you contact Mark Robinson
(another new team member), on 0121 643 4342 or by
email on [email protected] .
Mark Robinson has joined the PCS regional team on a six
month secondment. Mark is also one of our nominees for a
reps award to the Midlands TUC 3rd Awards event on 28th
November. We have nominations in two other categories.
Our reps have won awards at the two previous events.

Finally can I offer my thanks to all the reps and activists
that have worked ‘their socks off’ over the last period to
not only fight off the attacks of government but also to
ensure that PCS remains the force it has always been.
SINCE 2008: UK PAY FELL 8.4% -
JOIN MARK SERWOTKA, General Secretary of
PCS Union our Regional Committee meeting
at the Midlands Regional Office
Further evidence why Britain needs a
pay rise...

A new report underlines why Britain needs a
pay rise, showing the proportion of employees in
low-paid work across the UK has passed 5 million.

The Resolution Foundation report reveals, in its
annual audit of low pay across the country, that the
proportion of employees in low-paid work across Britain
increased from 21 to 22% last year.
Low Pay Britain 2014 shows that the number of
people earning less than two-thirds of median hourly pay,
equivalent to £7.69 an hour, rose to 5.2 million, an
increase of 250,000 on the previous year.
The research shows that the proportion of employees
earning less than £7.69 an hour rose, reversing a small
improvement in the previous year.
It is clear that preventing people getting stuck in
low pay and helping them to move out of in-work poverty
should be a priority for employers, the government and
all political parties.
Across the UK pay cuts have damaged the economy
and caused real hardship for millions of people. Our
members are facing the tightest living standards squeeze
for nearly a century.

Taking action for fair pay
PCS members went on strike on 15 October and
followed that up 3 days later by joining more than
100,000 people in London, Glasgow and Belfast in
marching for fair pay.
The marches highlighted the fact that workers have
faced a chilling squeeze on incomes: average wages have
plummeted by £50 a week in real terms since 2007.
Many of our members are struggling to live as, over
the last 4 years, the cost of food, fuel, childcare and
housing has rocketed while, in real terms, pay has
The government’s pay squeeze - a pay freeze
followed by a 1% cap - has meant that, compared to
prices, the average civil servants pay is now worth £2,300
less than in 2010. The chancellor’s announcement at the
Conservative party conference that the pay freeze will
continue to 2017 will only make matters worse.
Hand made placard seen at Revenue and Custom pickets
Leicester DWP
Coventry R&C
Nottingham Town Committee
Birmingham IAC
North Staffs Town Committee
MOJ Leicester and Rutland
MOJ CJC Birmingham
DVSA Nottingham
Nottingham Town Committee
Information and getting it out to the members are key in
organising any form of action – the earlier the better. That’s
why campaigns like Count Me In are so important.
As departments seek to minimise the influence of PCS and we
come under increasing pressure with attacks on check-off, facilities
time and the ability to communicate with members directly within the
workplace, we should be trying to get alternative contact details from
all members.
There is nothing more annoying for members than to see in the
paper or hear on the news/radio first that they are to take action.
Although it can’t be avoided in all cases, we try to ensure we have
leafleting at the workplace gates as soon as we know a date or time.
We usually produce our own leaflet which has a local slant to
supplement the national literature. Clever placing of placards and
stickers on lampposts near work also gives us another avenue for
telling members what is happening. For picket lines we usually appeal
for members to come along. On certain issues we will hold off
premises meetings to explain the issues.
We also prepare our own press release and send it to all the
media, radio & press at national and local level – even down to some
of the weekly town papers. This usually results in good paper
coverage, radio and TV interviews – a shot of our picket line from 4
years ago usually precedes East Midlands news on BBC when PCS are
On the day we ensure there are pickets on every entrance.
Everybody is challenged, and if going in, asked to contribute to the
hardship fund – where it’s needed we will remonstrate, we always
have leaflets appealing to stay out and of course membership forms.
Records are kept so we know how many go in and the split
between ARC, non-members and members. A post discussion is
always held at BEC level and anything we can do better.
The last action taken resulted in 89.5% members out – however
a number were waiting for VE. Our motto— “Will Do Better” each
Martin Page, PCS Leicester Revenue & Customs
PCS members
lobby office of
Nottingham MPs
Nottingham Town Committee
Birmingham IAC Birmingham IAC
Crown House Wolverhampton
Telford R&C
Nottingham R&C
North Staffordshire Town Committee
The average age of the
Civil servant is now 51,
however there is a large
chunk of members in their
early twenties based in
areas such as Contact
Centres and Processing. This
is expanding into E&C areas
in HMRC purely due to the
Tax Justice Campaign that
PCS has undertaken. As we
are the future of the PCS
then it’s of the utmost
importance that we can
shape our own future and
that can only be done with a
vibrant, member led union
such as PCS.
PCS Young Members
organise in the Midlands
and although currently few
in number this is beginning
to change as the depth of
the crisis facing us is
becoming apparent.
“I appeal to all
young members to get
active in their Branches
and for all those who are
currently non-members
to join us – as young
people our place is in the
union – we have a world
to win!”

First I would like to congratulate the Midlands Region for
organising such a successful delegation to the ‘Britain
Needs a Pay Rise’ TUC demonstration on Saturday 18th
October. PCS town and city committees worked with the
regional office to ensure that coaches were put on from
most areas in the Midlands. The demonstration saw tens
of thousands of trade unionists, service users and students
taking part to say, after years of pay freezes, enough is
Secondly , I read with interest recent articles in the
mainstream press about DWP matters and the style of
It seems many people are disheartened about the
attacks public servants face across all departments but
also the cold hearted spitefulness of this government. I
therefore congratulate the Benefits Justice campaigns like
DPAC and ILF service users who have worked with us to
campaign against what the government is doing.
We have to turn this mood into action—By signing
everyone up to DD to defeat the government’s attempt to
undermine our voice in the workplace by ending check-off.
But also by making sure that we have reps in every
workplace and our mapping is fully up to date. We have to
be ready to take on the challenges ahead.



Tens of thousands march for pay rise
Young members—
the future of our
public services and
our union
Laura Bee, Midlands Young Members
Laura with her colleagues on the picket line
Sian Ruddick, Chair of Midlands PCS




At least 350 people attended a
counter protest against the English
Defence League (EDL) in Birmingham
on the 11th October. The protest was
called and supported by Roger Godsiff,
MP, Jack Dromy MP around 50 local
councillors, Salma Yaqoob, Carl Chin
and General Secretaries including
Mark Serwotka and Dave Prentis.

This paved the way to the
support of local mosques and faith
groups who find themselves under
increasing pressure in an escalating
climate of racism and islamphobia
resulting from a pull to the right from
mainstream parties and the media in
response to UKIP, Rotherham and the
drive to war with ISIS in Iraq.
The statement said:

“ We, the undersigned, condemn the
decision by the English Defence League
(EDL) to come to Birmingham on Saturday
11th October. We believe it is a cynical
attempt by the EDL to use the appalling
crime of child sexual exploitation in
Rotherham to further its own selfish ends.
We support and seek justice for all victims
of sexual exploitation regardless of their
social or ethnic background.
We condemn and seek prosecution
of all those responsible for these crimes
irrespective of their ethnicity or creed. We
reject the attempt by the EDL to whip up
racism and division in our city by trying to
turn communities against each other
without a care for the damage it leaves in
its wake. We also reject the attempt by
the EDL to use the crime of child sexual
exploitation to demonise one community.
It is important to emphasise that the
victims and perpetrators of child sexual
exploitation come from all communities.
The recent Independent Inquiry into Child
Sex Exploitation in Rotherham by Professor
Alexis Jay OBE makes the very important
point that:

“As has been stated many times before,
there is no simple link between race and
child sex exploitation….” (Pg 91) “

PCS and GMB union played a
key role in questioning the police
decision to allow the EDL to drink in a
bar on Broad Street for 2 hours before
their rally, offering representation to
staff and calling on the bar to close.
Protestors successfully
negotiated with the police to ensure
that there was a broad and inclusive
protest and the rally was attended and
addressed by a cross section of the
city’s diverse community including
LGBT activists, black students,
Disabled People Against the Cuts,
Palestine Solidarity and Stop the War
as well as trade unions.
Birmingham Unite Against Fascism sees racist EDL
Message of thanks from Birmingham
UAF to PCS Midlands : “A big thank
you to PCS union in supporting the
Unite Against Fascism demonstration
today. We will be joining you on
October the 18th in London for the
national demonstration and support
your strike. Solidarity”
The red bus donated to mining
communities in Wales. Paid for by
Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners
(LGSM) the largest single collecting
group for the Dulais Valley.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism addresses the counter– protest
PRIDE: 30 years on the story of how
Lesbian and Gays Supported the
Miners continues to inspire us today
Carl Bowkett, Branch Learning
Officer DWP South
I attended the special pre-screening
offered to trade unionists with some
colleagues from work. The film is
about the principles of solidarity and
support across communities. It high-
lights the importance of the wider
labour movement and tells the story
of how 'Lesbian and Gays Support the
Miners' raised funds and brought
solidarity to a Welsh pit village during
the National Miners strike in 1984.
This is a richly enjoyable film about
equality, gay rights and solidarity that
allowed for a reflection upon social
Solidarity changed the LGBT
community and the pit villages
forever—it showed how prejudice
and ignorance can melt away. Their
actions led the National Union of
Miners to support LGBT rights being
enshrined in the TUC and Labour
Party, which has led to the legal
changes that we see today in law for
the benefit of society.
PCS regional office and local
campaigners gave advice and
information to audience members
about LGBT union groups and local
talks about the film. I would
encourage everyone to see it.
We are asking all members to make a voluntary donation of £2 a month to support
striking members whose action could exert significant pressure on the government to
enter into national negotiations over the key issues in our dispute:

| Pay | Pensions | Jobs | Terms and conditions | Privatisation
Geoff Dexter
Regional learning Organiser

The PCS Midlands Region
has just successfully
organised a series of
courses this term.

A new reps course provided a comprehensive
induction to the union and the role of workplace
representatives. Participants included new reps from DVSA,
Ofqual, DWP, Insolvency Service, MOJ, MOD, Natural
Environment Research Council, Highways agency and
Cofeley in the Commercial Sector.
The last new reps course in the Midlands was equally
diverse and I believe this is tribute to the organising
approach in the Midlands. The last two intakes of reps have
been instrumental in maximising our impact in our recent
campaigns and action as well as being a result of them.
PCS Midlands also initiated a one day organising
course in Telford with Commercial Sector Reps in
Capgemini where members are concerned about the
change of contracts in 2017, and the Defence Sector Group,
where members are facing privatisation. This included a
robust exercise around understanding TUPE, effective
campaigning and resulted in each branch developing an
organising plan. We believe this was a big success and
demonstrates how you can use the Regional Office as a
resource in taking the initiative and encouraging activists to
be proactive in our national campaigning priorities.
With reps from DVSA, VOA, Ofqual, Gambling
commission, ACAS, Home office, CSA, R&C and DWP, our 5
day representing members course was also a big success.
We accommodate reps on our courses with real case
studies relevant to their employers but by studying
together participants are able to gain from the best
experiences and practice across our union. We now
incorporate a visit to tribunal as well as negotiation skills as
part of this course.
I am also very pleased that we were also able to
support this course for the DWP group for the first time and
reps benefited from the experience of Sian Ruddick,
(regional lay tutor and DWP GEC member) co-tutoring with
a local TUC college. This resulted in excellent feedback.
Please keep in regular contact with me to keep up
with the latest training opportunities. 0121 643 4342
Forthcoming course in the Midlands

A key course for all reps and officers to keep up to date
with the national organising strategy of PCS union. With
11 reps already registered you can be assured that it will
go ahead and will be a valuable shared experience.

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