Friday, 12 March 2021

What's going on? 2021 archive

Want to get more involved in PCS? Attend your PCS branch annual general meeting, have your say and get active in your union.

The branch AGM, which is held between now and early March, is at the heart of our union’s democracy. It’s where annual and financial reports are agreed, election results announced, motions debated, conference delegates elected and nominations and motions for group and national conference and elections considered.

It is important to attend because not only are key decisions being made, but you can really see how the union works and get involved. Obviously, because of the pandemic, most AGMs will take place virtually this year.

Virtual get-together

Although there are certain agenda items that have to be dealt with at an AGM, there’s no reason for it to be stuffy or formal. It’s also a chance to get together, albeit virtually this year, talk about workplace issues and campaigns, assess how things are going and have your say. There is also often a guest speaker, typically a senior lay rep.

Focal point

All members have the right to attend and take part, and ask questions about the committee’s annual or financial reports, or other issues.

Elections are held before the AGM for branch officers and branch executive committee (BEC) members. Sometimes branch structures and policies differ slightly, but each BEC will have a chairsecretaryorganiser and treasurer. The branch may elect other branch reps covering local workplaces, as well as specific roles that typically include health and safety, union learning, environmental rep, equalities and young members.

To find out how to put yourself forward, talk to your local reps and look out for notices from your branch officers ahead of the meeting.

Any members who go along to the AGM are also directly involved in electing which delegates will go to PCS group and national conferences, which will also be held virtually this, as well as delegates to other bodies in which the branch participates. AGMs can also vote to nominate people who want to stand in PCS’s group and national elections (GEC and NEC).

Increase representation

Branches are encouraged to nominate members from under-represented groups including:

  • Women
  • Black
  • Disabled
  • Young members,
  • And LGBT+ members.

The meeting will also consider motions being put forward on key issues and campaigns at branch, group or national level. Motions can be on branch or workplace issues, group issues or on national issues for the annual delegate conference. Those agreed will then be dealt with by the BEC, or submitted for debate at the group and national conferences.

Any questions?

Talk to your local rep, branch officers, or regional PCS office, or email organising@pcs.org.uk

Tell us why you’re going to your AGM and why you feel it’s important to get involved and have your say, email editor@pcs.org.uk
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PCS is calling on the UK Civil Service to urgently instruct all UK government workers, contractors and agency staff to work from home wherever they can as the latest national lockdown measures are introduced.

Following the new lockdown measures, we demanded that everyone should be allowed to work from home where possible. That simple message should be immediately cascaded to all those who work in the UK Civil Service as well as contractors and agency staff.

Yesterday, we and the other public sector unions had a virtual meeting with Cabinet Office officials who said they would consider instructing all civil servants to work from home wherever possible. We are meeting again tomorrow to discuss the details of the measures the civil service should urgently take to ensure all work by UK government workers, contractors and agency staff can now be done from home unless it is demonstrably not possible to do so.

We are calling for all tribunals and courts currently open to the public to be shut. We know that courts and tribunals can operate digitally. And in the case of jobcentres we fully accept that a limited service to vulnerable people should continue but that is all. Services provided to the public such as driving tests must be paused.

As a matter of urgency, we request that the civil service reviews those areas where the mass roll-out of IT kit has not happened, for example in the DVLA, and to put arrangements in place so that work can be done from home.

In relation to DVLA, we know that the contact centre has the highest infection rates in the agency, in an area (South Wales) which has some of the highest rates in the world. Therefore, the contact centre should be immediately shut down.

A number of departments, for example MHCLG, DVLA and DEFRA are in the process of opening new or existing offices. That of course should stop.

Special leave

All governments now say that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work. Therefore, these staff should be instructed to either work from home or, if they cannot, be put on special leave with pay. We are proposing further that all clinically vulnerable staff should also be placed on special leave with pay if they cannot work at home.

Special leave with pay should be given to parents where childcare has been disrupted owing to school closures. Also, if key/critical workers require children to be at schools so that they can work from home, this should be facilitated.

All those working on civil service contracts, including facilities management staff, should receive the same Covid-related consideration as civil servants. Such staff should receive full pay if they have to self-isolate for any reason.

The current lockdown should also be used to carry out a review of risk assessments for all staff and contract staff in each workplace, in light of the new strain of the virus.

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