A new year — in more ways than one

It’s a new year and I have a new heart. After three months in Papworth and four false alarms, I had my transplant in early December and was home for Christmas with my family.

It was without doubt the best present we could have wished for and, while I had got to know and like many of the staff at the hospital during my stay, it felt so good to finally be discharged.

Thanks again from me and my family to everyone in PCS, the labour movement and beyond for all the messages we have received, they have meant an awful lot to us.

So now I no longer need to carry around that battery pack and I no longer have to plug myself into the mains when I go to sleep.

For the first time in two years, I have a heartbeat. It’s taking some getting used to, but it feels great.

With the agreement of my doctors, I’m now working from home while I continue to recuperate and am looking forward to getting back into the office as soon as possible to tackle the challenges ahead.

As well as overseeing major changes to our union to ensure we are as well organised as possible, there are important campaigns on the horizon to fight further job cuts and office closures.

The NHS is in crisis and this Tory government is in denial about it. Before I left Papworth I spoke to consultants and other staff there about what more we can do to help raise the profile of the issues they’re facing, and that is going to be a major priority for me this year.
Those wonderful healthworkers are providing world-class care but struggling under second-class support from Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt. I hope as many of you as possible will join me on the demonstration in London on 4 March in support of our NHS.

My first task of the new year though was to ensure we got to work on our pay campaign.

No one is immune from six years of Tory attacks on living standards, but our analysis shows civil service pay has lagged behind not just inflation, but average earnings in the rest of the public sector and the economy as a whole.

The combined effect of pay restraint, pension changes, the end of salary progression and increases in National Insurance, has created a perfect storm. Add into the mix the fact the cost of living is set to rise this year, and doing nothing is just not an option.

We’ll be issuing more information about this soon, but I want you to be talking in your workplaces now about what we can and should do. Where can we put pressure on your employer and on the government? What action can we take, what campaigns can we run?

Pay negotiations in the civil service are an absolute farce, we know that, as the purse strings are held so tightly by the Treasury and the Cabinet Office.
But as we showed last year in the Land Registry and the Welsh museums, to name but two, our strength is in our numbers. And my new heart is beating with an age old desire to fight injustice.

This is cross-posted on the PCS website