In 2015, PCS was at the heart of opposition to the government, fighting against cuts and closures, defending members’ redundancy rights and fighting to end austerity.
The reaction of the then Tory Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, was particularly vicious. He went about attacking members’ terms and conditions, attacking PCS reps and attempting to bankrupt the union by announcing that he would not allow PCS members to pay their union subscriptions directly from their pay packet. He knew that 90% of PCS income came from that method.
However, the union was not to be beaten. In a matter of weeks and months, PCS signed up over 160,000 members to pay their subs by direct debit instead. This move meant that they did not go bankrupt and it ensured the continuing representation of members at work. The ensuing legal action in the High Court shows that the government had acted illegally, and the union deserved compensation. In a humiliating defeat for the government, in its attempt to smash PCS and other unions in the public sector, it has to pay £3 million compensation and all of PCS’s legal costs.
The union now plans to take legal action against every major government department because of the illegal way they’ve been treated.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“Today’s announcement tells us we have settled one departmental case on union busting, we have many more to come. That’s good news for all of us, and now we’ll ensure we use that money to benefit our members.
This goes to show that this union can win. We can win in the courts and we can win through campaigning. We’ve defeated the government on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme and we’re waiting for the outcome of a judicial review on the way the government handled pay this year because we believe they did not consult us lawfully. But we’ve got more campaigns to fight. We’ve still got to challenge the government on pay, and ensure that next year we can win above inflation pay rises.
We will continue to take them to court when we can, but the key to winning is to be a stronger union in every workplace. If you know a colleague who hasn’t joined PCS, please urge them to join. If you’re a member consider becoming a rep. The more of us who are in the union, the more of us who are active means we won’t just beat the government in court we will beat them in our campaigning, too.”