This old rumour has been revived but this time with some solid foundations to it. An NEC motion will be put to this year’s conference calling for closer working with Unite. We know of plans to share services e.g. pay roll, HR etc between the two unions but it appears that many on the NEC now expect that a merger proposal will be put to PCS annual conference in 2013.
Our starting point when considering such a merger is look at what it means in terms of industrial and democratic logic.
Industrially it does not make much sense as there is very little overlap between the areas that the unions organise in. Unite does have members in the civil service but in relatively small numbers compared to our membership. We know of no overlap between unions in what we call the commercial sector.
In terms of democracy we cannot see an advantage. Unite is not as democratic as PCS, both in practice and in culture. It has a very entrenched bureaucracy that does and will stifle all attempts at membership control.
So what could be the motivation for such a merger? To our mind two reasons are apparent; money and political ambition.
PCS is losing members, even as our density amongst the remaining staff increases. PCS is staffed and pays its full time members as when it was a union of 320,000 members (remember the days when PCS had the slogan “fastest growing union in the UK”?). Instead of adjusting to changed circumstances, vigorously recruiting in the civil service and in the commercial section areas, in companies like A4e etc and reducing full time officer’s pay, we think that union leadership wants to hook up with Unite so that they can pay FTO wages.
The political angle is to do with Len McCluskey’s seeming desire to have Mark Serwotka succeed him as General Secretary of Unite.
Neither of these reasons is good enough to justify a merger.