The union leadership wanted motion A21 passed at conference to give them a free hand to ‘negotiate’ with Unite. They were defeated and instead a motion was passed that demands that our current democratic structures (annual election of the NEC, annual conferences) and an independent political fund be maintained (this is code for ‘we want nothing to do with the Labour Party’).
Whilst many IL comrades voted for this motion, many were in favour of the motion that would have stopped the merger/transfer talks altogether.
The reason for our opposition to the ‘free hands to negotiate’ motion is that at present we can see no industrial logic or gain to be had from a lash up with Unite. Indeed if delegates had accepted motion A21 then the NEC would have ‘negotiated’ a less democratic structure than at present. Annual conference, elections etc. would go (though Unite may have agreed transitional arrangements the ex-PCS part of Unite, there is no intention of changing their national union structures for us).
Therefore a ‘cost benefit analysis’ just shows costs (in terms of democracy and political voice) and no benefits (in terms of industrial gains for the members) compared to the current set up i.e. keeping PCS in being. Therefore surely a rational person would say ‘let’s keep PCS’.
Of course all this is against the background of supposedly stable finances (we were given multiple assurances on that point). The Independent Left has always said that if there was a substantial, rapid deterioration in the union’s finances or check off was suddenly ended with minimum notice then ‘all bets would be off’ as the financial situation would mean we needed a life raft. But in the absence of such a crisis then the transfer to Unite should not happen – at least given the current proposals.
So why do the Socialist Party, Mark Serwotka and some others argue for a transfer to Unite? We will deal with that in further postings.