Should we merge with Unite?

Now it is generally assumed amongst activists that the leadership, or at least Mark Serwotka, wants the PCS to merge with Unite.

The Independent Left has no line on whether we should or not merge. In this posting though we want to explore one of the reasons being pushed that could be used to justify a merger; the reason being that we are going bust.

At the 2012 conference we were told that given the current rate of membership loss and projected reductions in the future that within a few years the union will have an income £5 million less than now. The sub text here is that this is an unsustainable loss and something fundamental – hint, hint- has to be done to prevent this state of affairs.

We oppose this viewpoint for a number of reasons. Firstly we think with better tactics the union can “win” on jobs. Secondly we can recruit more members in the civil service and in the commercial sector; decline is not inevitable, at least not decline as the leadership define it; and this brings us on to the third reason. When the leadership raises their concerns over falling incomes, a lot of their fear is not concern with what this would mean for members but what will it mean for full time officer’s wages, numbers, perks and pensions; in other words the bureaucracy of the union is concerned about it’s own material well being.

This is understandable, but for us it is not a key factor. A smaller union – especially given that PCS is increasing its membership density in the areas that it organises- is not a disaster; it is just a smaller union; one where FTO pay and perks cannot be the same as now.

Of course we want to reduce the pay and perks now, not in the future; in other words we want to reduce FTO expenditure regardless of future possible membership loss; even if the union was expanding we would want to do this. A union where FTO wages are not in line with the membership is a union where the concerns of members and paid officials start to diverge.

Therefore, reducing income is not an excuse for a merger.

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