Public and Commercial Services Union

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Public and Commercial Services Union
Public and Commercial Services Union (logo).png
Headquarters160 Falcon Road, London
  • United Kingdom
Key people
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary
John Moloney, Assistant General Secretary
Fran Heathcote, President
AffiliationsTUC, ICTU, STUC, NSSN, PSI, European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU)

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is the sixth largest trade union in the United Kingdom.[1] Most of its members work in UK government departments and other public bodies.


The union was founded in 1998 by the merger of the Public Services, Tax and Commerce Union (which mostly represented the executive grades of the Civil Service) and the Civil and Public Services Association (mostly representing the administrative grades). The General Secretaries of the two unions, John Sheldon and Barry Reamsbottom respectively, became Joint General Secretaries of the new union. In 2000, Mark Serwotka was elected General Secretary[2] and has held the position since: he was elected unopposed in 2005 (no other candidate received enough valid nominations from PCS branches); he was re-elected in 2009 for a five-year term, and in 2014 was re-elected for a further five years.[3] In 2018, the union won £3 million in damages from the Department for Work and Pensions,[4] after a legal challenge against the withdrawal of the "check off" system of paying union subscriptions.

Membership and organisation[edit]

The union had 195,901 members at the end of 2015[5] and is the largest trade union representing civil servants in the UK.[6]

PCS is organised into groups that deal with different bargaining units such as Revenue and Customs, Work and Pensions and Law and Justice.

Two factions compete in elections to the National Executive Committee of the PCS, its governing body: the ruling Left Unity faction,[7] which stands candidates as part of the Democracy Alliance, and an opposing Independent Left faction.[8]

PCS Credit Union[edit]

PCS Credit Union Limited is a savings and loans co-operative established by the trade union for its members in 2011.[9] It is a member of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited,[10] authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the PRA. Ultimately, like the banks and building societies, members’ savings are protected against business failure by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.[11]

Equality networks[edit]

PCS Union has a National Black Members Committee (Black is used in a political term which includes African, Caribbean, South Asian, East Asian), the Committee is chaired by Mohammed Shafiq and the Vice Chair is Tracey Hylton.[12]

PCS has a network for young members (aged 27 and under).

PCS has a network for LGBT members.

PCS has a network for associate and retired members.


Organisations to which PCS is affiliated include Abortion Rights,[13] Amnesty international and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.[14]


PCS is headquartered south of Battersea, next to Clapham Junction railway station.

Strikes involving PCS members[edit]


PCS members on strike in 2006.

In November 2004, PCS workers across government departments undertook a one-day strike in protest against government plans to cut the Civil Service by 20%. This action was followed by further one-day strikes on 31 January and 1 May 2007.


Three one day strikes over pay in National Museums Liverpool.[15]


In conjunction with Prospect, members at the Science Museum went on strike over pay.[16]


PCS members on strike in 2010.

On 8 March 2010, 270,000 civil servants began a 48-hour strike over government changes to redundancy payments.[17]


The union voted for a one-day strike on 30 June 2011.[18]

Striking teachers and public sector workers march down the Kingsway, London, flanked by police on 30 June, as part of the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests.

There were stints of hour strikes during the summer months of 2011 but these were not full walk outs.[citation needed]

A further strike was voted for by members for 30 November 2011, over pensions negotiations with the government.

There was a three-hour strike on 12 December 2011 over privatisation of call centres, with further action planned for 16 and 31 January 2012.[19]


Action was planned for 16 and 31 January 2012.[19] Although original hopes of a national strike on 28 March, only a London strike materialised, due to lack of support from other unions rejecting national strikes. The PCS later joined a national strike on 10 May alongside UCU, NIPSA and Unite (Health)


Strike action was organised for New Year's Eve 2013 for all Metropolitan Police Service Civil Staff due to a pay dispute. Taking strike action on this day was deemed to be most effective because of the busy nature of the day for police.[20] The MPS offered a below inflation wage increase of 1%. Another strike ballot was announced on 6 February 2014 for strike action on 12 and 13 February 2014.

As part of the union's budget day strikes,[21] a series of protests took place across branches in the Culture Group, including Tate and National Museums Liverpool to highlight the effect of government cuts to arts funding.[22]


PCS announced a strike on 10 July over pay.


From 11 August 2015, PCS members at the National Gallery took indefinite strike action against a proposed privatisation of the security staff at the gallery.[23] The strike lasted for over 100 days.[24]

At the National Museum Wales branch, members voted for strike action after proposals to end their weekend pay premiums.[25]

Members of the Royal Household branch, including staff at Windsor Castle, voted for action short of a strike in an effort to achieve the Living Wage.[26]

Another of the union's Culture Group branches went on strike in December 2015 against the removal of weekend allowances.[27] The dispute at the National Museum of Scotland branch was eventually ended when funding from the Scottish Government enabled a buy out of the allowances.[28]


Cleaners in HMRC went on strike as their outsourced employer, ISS, claimed it couldn't afford the Government's new National Living Wage.[29]


Strike action of Driving examiners was organised for 4 and 5 December to coincide with the introduction of new driving tests in order to protest against the introduction of Satellite Navigation to the test on 4 December. Examiners also voted started work to rule on 23 November.[30][31]


In conjunction with GMB, PCS members at Historic Royal Palaces took strike action against proposed changes to their pensions.[32] This was the first time the Beefeaters had been on strike in 55 years.[33]

Outsourced workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) went on strike to demand the London Living Wage in a coordinated action with UVW union members at the nearby Ministry of Justice.[34][35]


General Secretaries[edit]

1998: John Sheldon and Barry Reamsbottom
2000: Mark Serwotka

Assistant General Secretaries[edit]

2000: Hugh Lanning
2004: Chris Baugh and Hugh Lanning
2009: Chris Baugh
2014: Chris Baugh
2019: John Moloney


1998: Peter Donnellan
2003: Janice Godrich
2019: Fran Heathcote

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About PCS". Public and Commercial Services Union Website. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  2. ^ Daniels, Gary; McIlroy, John, eds. (2009), "Trade Unions in a Neoliberal World", Routledge Research in Employment Relations Series, Taylor & Francis, 20, p. 154, ISBN 9780415426633
  3. ^ "Mark Serwotka re-elected". PCS News centre. 17 December 2009. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  4. ^ "PCS union wins £3m payout from DWP in check-off victory | Civil Service World". Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Public and Commercial Services Union: 2015 Annual Return" (PDF). Gov.UK. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  6. ^ "PCS union renews pension strike threat". BBC. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "PCS Independent Left". PCS Independent Left.
  9. ^ PCS Credit Union Public and Commercial Services Union (retrieved 21 February 2015)
  10. ^ Credit unions in membership of ABCUL Archived 3 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine Association of British Credit Unions (retrieved 1 November 2014)
  11. ^ Credit Union Guide Financial Services Compensation Scheme (retrieved 2 April 2015)
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Abortion Rights: PCS Public-Sector Workers Reject Demands To End Affiliation To Progressive Rights Group". 23 May 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  14. ^ Mark, Serwoka (2014). "PCS Annual financial report". PCS. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Third one day strike to hit Liverpool museums". PCS. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Museum staff go on strike in pay dispute". Reuters. 13 June 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  17. ^ "270,000 civil servants join 48-hour strike". BBC. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  18. ^ McSmith, Andy; Morris, Nigel (16 June 2011). "Britain walks out: UK braced for biggest wave of strikes since the 1980s". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Defend call centres from privateers". PCS. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  20. ^ "Metropolitan Police civilian Staff on New Year's Eve strike". BBC News. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Budget Day strike for civil servants". 6 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  22. ^ Waddington, Marc (29 May 2013). "Liverpool museum staff to walk out in Government cuts protest". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  23. ^ Gayle, Damien (11 August 2015). "National Gallery staff strike shuts down most exhibitions". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Deal ends National Gallery strike". 2 October 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Museum staff back strikes over pay". 22 July 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Queen's staff in industrial action". 15 April 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  27. ^ "National Museum hit by strike action". 27 December 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  28. ^ "National museum pay dispute resolved". 15 April 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  29. ^ Lawrence, Felicity (28 July 2016). "HMRC cleaners striking over pay: 'They've treated us appallingly'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  30. ^ "DVSA workers set to strike in dispute over new driving test". Public and Commercial Services Union. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  31. ^ "Driving examiners to strike on test day". BBC News. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Why the Beefeaters at the Tower of London are on strike". The Independent. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  33. ^ Davies, Caroline (21 December 2018). "Beefeaters at Tower of London strike for first time in 55 years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  34. ^ Syal, Rajeev (17 December 2018). "BEIS faces strike over low pay for outsourced service workers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  35. ^ correspondent, Owen Bowcott Legal affairs (10 January 2019). "Ministry of Justice workers to stage two-day strike over pay". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 September 2020.

External links[edit]