Whilst we don’t claim to have conducted a scientific survey of those non-Socialist Party PCS activists in favour of a merger, we have talked to many. A dominant theme is that a transfer to Unite would guarantee the medium to long term finances of trade unionism within what are now PCS recognised areas.
Compared to the unsubstantiated claims of us joining Unite to bridge the public/private divide etc, the concern about the union’s finances is a substantive and real issue. That said, the union leadership claims it has stabilised our finances and in concept a smaller union of 220,000 or 200, 000 should be viable unless of course it has the cost infrastructure (in the shape of pension liabilities and full time officer wages) of a much bigger union. In the Independent Left we have said that if the financial situation substantially worsened then we would revisit our current opposition of a transfer to Unite. Whilst we fear that the leadership is covering up the real financial position of the union (that is why we want the union’s books to be opened up so that activists can check) in the absence of fact, we have to accept the leaders’ claims regarding the union’s accounts.
Some activists actually want to link up with the Labour Party and fight from ‘within’. The gain that might made from this is not quantified (and how can it be given the entrenched bureaucracy of Unite and the Labour Party that would seek to prevent any real change) and certainly cannot be worth the real quantifiable losses of union democracy that are on offer with a transfer to Unite; and, as we continually repeat, in the absence of any industrial logic of a transfer, industrial gains for the members, then the transfer is not worth it.