Why young people should support July 10th – We all need a pay rise!

Dean SwiftDean Swift, PCS London & South East Young Members Convener, talks about why the industrial action on July 10th is so important for young people.


The 10th of July 2014 could be one of those days that go down in history but that can, and will only happen if you play YOUR part!

With a 1% pay increase imposed on staff across the civil service after a pay freeze of 4 years people are having to make choices of whether to eat or pay their rent with the cost of living soaring above the increases that many staff didn’t even notice they even had been given in their pay packets! Choices like these are having to be made on a day to day basis by people who thought they were well valued members of staff and working for a caring and respectable employer.

Recently the PCS union released their pay calculator which had members of staff astounded when they could see before their eyes some were loosing up to £6,000 in their wages as part of the governments austerity program.

Young people are bearing the brunt of the austerity program being pushed through by this government with 1 million 18 to 24 year olds unemployed and for the “lucky” few that are, they are subject to zero hour contracts with no guarantee of work, meaningless and pitiful terms and conditions and a national minimum wage of £2.68 for apprenticeships, £3.72 for under 18’s and £5.03 for under 21’s.

The heart breaking story of Martin Hadfield who took his own life at the aged of 20 after spending months and months looking for employment really drives home the fact that these are real people with real hopes and aspirations who are facing real day to day struggles who are simply being cast aside by a system offering so many so little.

It is the future of this country that lays with the people who are are currently being crushed by the governments austerity program with no future for jobs, no future for housing and no future for education! With the energy, ambition and and talents of today’s youth being used as slave labour in order to boost the profits of the rich bankers and businessmen and the 10th of July is your chance to show this government that THEY NEED YOU!

With an overwhelming show of strength with a vote of 73% demanding strike action PCS are being joined by many other unions such as GMB, UNITE, National union of Teachers, NIPSA, UNISON and the Fire brigades union. With an estimated 1.5 million workers walking out on 10th July this is a real opportunity to change the future for yourself, your children and your grandchildren!

I will be joining the strike action on 10th July because I don’t want to have to choose between bread and milk anymore and young people in this country deserve a future!

Young members have a massive part to play on 10th July! Support the action by joining a picket line, getting involved with the rallies and demonstrations, signing a friend up to join the union and use the PCS pay squeeze calculator to find out how much this government really is costing you!

10485114_10152567986719669_1007891413444680794_nWhat you can do to build for July 10th:

  •  change your social media profile to the pic above to show your support for J10
  •  Tweet to @pcs_union why you need a pay rise #weallneedapayrise
  •  speak to the colleagues in your workplace about why they should take action
  •  leaflet your branch with J10 leaflets
  •  help support the picket line on Thursday morning
  • join demos and rallies in your area on strike day and invite friends and family
  • Most importantly, get active in your branch and the YMN to help us build the fight back against austerity
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Young Members Forum shows YM leading the way

Delegates at YM ForumOver 30 delegates from across the UK took part in the annul Young Members Forum, where young members came discuss to how we fight against austerity and continue to ensure that young people are at the forefront of the trade union movement. Sessions included discussing the issues that are effecting young members and updating the Young Members Charter to incorporate this, how we ensure equality is at the forefront of our campaigns, organising for the direct debit campaign and workshops on campaigning, lay organising and equality.

The platform debate was one of the main events, with Lee Vernon as the PCS YM’s Chair on how we beat austerity, BECTU’s Youth officer Sam Smith giving an update on the Ritzy Cinema strike and organising in a hostile environment, Claire Laker-Mansfield from Youth Fight for Jobs spoke on the fast food workers and the fight for a living wage and Anthony Curley from UNITE on how we work together as unions to fight back austerity not just in the workplace but in the community.

group photo

John McInally spoke from the National Executive Committee and gave an update on the National Campaign, highlighting not just the need to build for July 10th but where we go from there and how the union will continue to fight even without the other unions. There was also additional sessions from selling the Credit Union to members and a guest speech from Ruskin College and the importance of working class trade union education.

The feedback received from the young delegates and guests was all extremely positive, with young members fired up to go back to branches and workplaces to organise and build the national campaign.

An almost entirely new National Young Members Committee has been elected this year, including the Vice Chair Louise Hollingsworth and Equalities Officer Jake Kelday. The NYMC will be meeting over the next few weeks to take the action points and recommendations from the YM forum to set out a plan to build the network and ensure that young members are at the forefront of the national campaign. We also welcome our new NEC liaison officer and President of the Culture Sector., Clara Paillard, who’s keen to take forward work around campaigning against zero hour contracts and environmental issues.

The NYMC would also like to say a big thank you to our outgoing Young Members Conveners, officers, FTO Gayle Matthews and NECLO Helen Flanagan who have played key roles in building the youth work in the union and will no doubt go on to play a vital roles in the wider trade union movement.

If you’re not already involved in the YMN or are looking to get more involved in the union, there’s never been a better time to get active. If you want to know, contact your regional convener or the Full timer officer Julie Young for more information.

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PCS Young Members at Conference

6700_-2014-ADC-web-page-graphicWith the PCS Group and Annual Conferences about to begin, the Young Members Network will be at active in Brighton across the week. We’ll have a stall throughout national conference, where we’ll be on hand to discuss youth issues, help introduce you to other leading young member activists, give out literature and signing up young members both to the Network and to our Young Member Forum (more details available online here!).

PCS YMN band

We’ll also be on hand to sell our new 10th Anniversary YMN wristbands for a £1 donation in order to help raise funds for future campaigns and Young Workers Week in November.


Fringe Meeting & Social
The YM Network will be hosting a fringe meeting on the Wednesday evening after the close of Conference (with potentially nibbles and drink, only the best!) on how we can continue to organise young members across the trade union movement. Speakers include the PCS Young Members Chair Lee Vernon, NEC member Helen Flanagan and a representative from Youth Fight for Jobs. All this will be followed by the Young Members Social where everyone is invited to the Queens Arms (Kemptown) in the evening for drinks and potentially karaoke.

So if you’re down for Conference, whether as a trainee, a delegate or an observer, come over, introduce yourself and get involved with the Young Members Network. Feel free to message us here or on facebook if your down and want to meet up before hand!

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Why Young Members should vote YES & YES in the HMRC Ballot

HMRC Must improveAs young members we are facing the brunt of HMRC attacks on staff.

Many of you are on FTA contracts that will soon expire. Those of you who are on permanent contracts face ever increasing workloads and unrealistic demands as the staffing crisis grows within HMRC. This is tied into a Performance Management system that will mean that as a young person you’re more likely to face a Must Improve marking than others. As staff cuts continue to bite, so are all opportunities for a career and whilst resources are stripped from the Department, so is the chance for a decent pay rise.

Yet even in this climate through negotiations we have already achieved much: extensions of thousands FTA contracts, saving nurseries in a number of sites, an ongoing call centre agreement and recently winning new concessions in PT Ops.

However, now we have reached a point where they can go no further. HMRC Permanent Secretary Lin Homer has refused all meetings with PCS to discuss the future of HMRC. Enquiry centres are set to be closed, staffing levels are at a critical level in some areas with FTAs to be let go and private companies are being brought in to “trial” telephony work. The employer’s position is that this is going to happen and our role is merely to implement it.

The loss of thousands of jobs is unacceptable and is why the Group Executive voted unanimously to ballot for action. The full details of the demands and correspondence can be found online here.

We know that by investing more in staff we can not only provide a better service but also collect more tax that can be put back into more services. Yet, HMRC and their pay masters in Government and the Cabinet Office don’t want to listen and only want to strip the department bare.

To do nothing will not only be accepting the changes, but also to invite more job losses & detrimental changes to our terms & conditions. By voting to take action we will show the employer that we are serious about defending our members and demand that if there isn’t genuine negotiations then we are not afraid to fight back.

Vote Yes for action short of strike and for strike action itself and join the fight for an alternative HMRC. For enquiry centres to remain open, FTAs to be made permanent, an end to the hated PMR and privatisation and for investment into services

What you can do to build the strike

  • Forward this message on to other young members in your area
  • Speak to your colleagues about the issues, ensure they received a ballot paper and encourage them to vote yes and yes
  • Speak with your BEC about leafleting your office with the Vote Yes material
  • Ask non-members to join the union and get involved in fighting for an alternative HMRC
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Why Class Matters

National Museum of Scotland’s PCS Branch Chair, and Assistant Branch Secretary Alex Lawrie talks about why young people need to understand the important of class warfare.

I recently had a chat with a fellow Young Member regarding the issue of the Scottish Independence Referendum. I happened to pose the issue of where the working classes featured in this whole debate. Their reply?

‘You always go on about this ‘class’ thing. I don’t like to think of people in different classes as it makes it seem that some people are better than others, and that one class is better than another. I’m not in any class.’

Sadly this wasn’t based on Socialist or even Anarchist concepts of a post-revolutionary classless society, but a reiteration of an idea that permeates through the mainstream media. Unleashed by Thatcher and promulgated by its offspring New Labour the idea is quite simple – ‘we are all middle class now’. The working class is dead, those left behind have degenerated into benefit cheats. It shouldn’t have surprised me really. It reminded me of an incident that took place when I was at a university tutorial group:

‘My Dad still claims to be working class, but I mean all of us here are middle class really’

I didn’t dispute it at the time – I was in open mouthed shock, and I’ve regretted not challenging it ever since. Then I went and told one of my friends and they retorted:

‘But you are not working class! You speak properly and listen to Radio 4. Working class people are all on benefits and stuff’

It really was like something out of a dystopian novel. Apparently if you took an interest in the ancient world, liked to read books, or listened to debates on the radio you were thereby baptised as middle class – the working class residue was washed away. Welcome to civilization – we have balsamic vinegar on tap!

The post-Thatcherite world brought about not only the hammering of the Unions, but saw the insertion of this damaging myth. The working class is gone. It never existed. Now go buy your ipad, and join the privileged in society. Slowly and subtly it has grown alongside rampant consumerism to make the concept a relic to go along with that old trope of ‘Union Dinosaurs’. Young people are particularly vulnerable to this because Unions are rarely talked about in a positive light on TV and radio, and even amongst working families like my own Trade Unions are seen as something of the past. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The main problem lies in the fact that the powerful in our society never forgot about class war – they just made sure you forgot. As Warren Buffet famously said, ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’

Just look beyond your ipad and the other trinkets for a minute and see what is happening around you – for at least the last 25 years the government has been incessant in its attacks on the Trade Union movement. The latest attempt to take away Check Off is a direct attack on our own PCS Union and its members. They want to cut you off from one of the last entities that can help you fight to preserve your terms and conditions and to protect jobs.

If you have no capital, no property, and work for someone else then you are a member of the working class. You can pretend that class doesn’t matter, but class warfare is happening regardless. You are right in the middle of it. Look at how bankers’ bonuses soar whilst everyone else is given pay cut after pay cut to pay for their mistakes. They are out to get you, and they will unless you join up and fight back!

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TUC Young Members votes for General Strike

PCS TUC DelegationOn the weekend of the 24th March, the TUC Young Members Forum held its annual conference and for first time in its history, voted to support and call on the TUC for a general strike to beat austerity.

For those un-initiated in the internal running of the TUC, all affiliated unions are invited to send youth delegates to debate and vote on key issues affecting young people, elect the vice chair (the Chair is elected at TUC Congress proper) and generally set out the campaign priorities of the youth forum for the coming year. (The full agenda and motions can be found online here).

The PCS delegation spoke on a range of motions to highlight the alternative and how the only way we can defend terms & conditions and win concessions from the employer is from campaigning linked up with industrial action & strategy. The PCS’s own motion called on the TUC to launch a youth campaign and to put the issue of the general strike back on the agenda as the only way to fight austerity. This produced support from union delegates across the floor, with supporting speeches from UNITE, GMB and other unions with no speeches against. The vote itself was overwhelmingly in support, showing that young trade unionists are calling out for more industrial action that the TUC has so far dithered on.

One point of contention was the decision for the PCS delegation to vote against the TSSA motion calling on a better railcards for young people. Though the delegates initially were down to support it, the RMT set out clear opposition that railcards are a product to generate profit to private companies and that any changes would just be further subsidising profits for them using taxpayers money. The only way to reduce travel costs for young people, is to renationalise the railways and set out a pricing model that benefited society and not private profit. In the same way PCS wouldn’t call for the Work Programme to be slightly kinder to young people as it doesn’t solve the problem but only slightly alleviates the symptoms.

Perhaps most shocking for the PCS delegates, was that just under 50% of delegates to the conference were workplace reps. Though this doesn’t rule out the other 50% not being union activists generally or full time officers, it does raise the issue as to why aren’t they reps and why hasn’t their unions integrated them? It’s clear that in the future we need to be concentrating on what we can do to get more young people getting involved.

The PCS also extends its support and congratulations to the new Vice-Chair, UNITE Young Member Anthony Curling, who we look forward to working with to make the TUC Forum a campaigning, fighting body.

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What support can young carers get?

Gillian MartinNorthern Ireland Young Members Convenor Gillian Martin writes on the support young carers can get and where to find it.

Since April ’13, when care homes across the country faced closure, it’s become increasingly apparent that closures severely affect not only the residents, but also the friends and relatives who are now looking after them without support.

With few members under the age of 27 left in PCS, many us are likely to have relatives old enough to develop symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Our employer provides the ability to re-arrange our working patterns to allow us to care for our relatives, but where do you go for support? Who helps relieve the constant mental and emotional stress of watching a loved one deteriorate and trying to look after them day in, day out? I contacted some charities and support groups to ask what support they provide:

Carer’s Trust

Carers Trust works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health problems. We do this with Network Partners – a network of independent carers’ centres, Crossroads Care schemes and young carers’ services. Together we are united by a shared vision for carers – to make sure that information, advice and practical support are available to all carers.

For more information, call 0844-800-4361 or visit http://www.carers.org or http://www.youngcarers.net. You can email info@carers.org for further advice.

Alzheimer’s disease International

ADI is the international federation of 79 Alzheimer associations around the world, in official relations with the World Health Organization. Our vision is an improved quality of life for people with dementia and their families throughout the world. We work locally, by empowering Alzheimer associations to promote and offer care and support for people with dementia and their carers, while working globally to focus attention on dementia and campaign for policy change from governments. For more information, visit http://www.alz.co.uk.

Alzheimer’s Society

We are the leading support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers. We offer a wide range of services and local support across Northern Ireland. These include home care support (in some Health Trust areas) for people with dementia, befriending services, dementia cafes and carer support groups. We also provide carer support programmes and one to one visits for families offering advice, support and signposting for all aspects of dementia, including financial and legal matters, practical help, and understanding diagnosis and assessment.

We have a National Dementia Helpline on 0300-222-1122, which is open seven days a week (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday). Our advisors offer a confidential service and a listening ear, providing guidance, advice and support to callers.

There is a wealth of information on our website, including over one hundred factsheets, providing up to date and reliable information on every aspect of living with dementia. You can also access our online support network, Talking Point, via the website, where you can learn from the experiences of other carers and people with dementia. The website address is http://www.alzheimers.org.uk.

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