Over the past months there have been persistent rumours that this is on the cards. Nothing has been said to activists or members about this possibly yet the rumours persist.
Possibly one reason for the persistence is the realisations that PCS will be broke in the next few years if nothing fundamentally changes. PCS currently has a cost structure i.e. number of full timers, their salary levels (to use business jargon) for a union of 320,000 members when in reality it has closer to 250,000 members. The recent national strikes on pensions have boosted membership but the union’s core market, the civil service, is shrinking. The union has had some success in recruiting in areas of outsourced work but these gains are outweighed by losses in the civil service. Instead of reducing the full time officer salary bill, having much more aggressive recruitment in core and outsourced work areas and changing the way union works, the general belief is that the union will seek a rescuer, one that can maintain full time officer wages and perks. This allied with the fact that in the past year Unite and PCS have signed a concordat and at the general secretary level there is a close relationship. It is these things that are driving the rumours.
The key question is whether such a merger makes democratic and industrial sense; that, and not the state of the PCS pension schemes, should drive the argument.