PCS National conference 2015: UNITE and the Transfer of Undertakings

Last year Conference carried Motion A463 instructing the NEC to urgently circulate to members a full report on the talks that had already taken place to transfer PCS to Unite, including the steps taken by PCS negotiators to ensure the minimum conditions laid down for talks by ADC 2013. Members and Conference are still awaiting that urgent report.

Motion A463 also directed that written reports of all future talks should be given to the NEC and circulated to branches. Branches are still awaiting any report. Of course the PCS leadership might claim that there have not been any talks (although that is not the impression given by the UNITE leadership) but then the NEC could have simply added a sentence to the report on the past talks to say that there had not been any more talks post 2014 Conference but it would update branches if the talks resumed. But absolutely nothing has been said to the lay membership.

Whatever delegates’ views on the merit of PCS transfer to UNITE the lack of information since ADC 2014 reveals an appalling lack of transparency, especially given the importance of the issue and the strong feelings expressed on all sides of the debate last year. Conference should therefore vote for A36.

Perhaps we will be confronted with an emergency NEC motion, although it is difficult to see on what basis any motion about merger with UNITE could properly be called an emergency in the constitutional sense i.e. that the essential fact of the issue was unknown before the constitutional deadline.

What we can say is that in purely industrial terms there is no industrial logic in PCS joining UNITE. Unite has members in the Civil Service and the Metropolitan Police but not in so great a number that it would make sense joining the two organisations together; we don’t compete for members in the private sector in which UNITE predominantly recruits; and PCS is essentially a “single industry” union with a widespread membership understanding of the key industrial issues and enjoys directly elected committees, annual elections and annual conferences.

Unite’s national conferences are indirectly elected by regional committees and regional industrial sector committees; national policy conference takes place every two years; national rules conference every four years; industrial sector conferences every two years. Elections for the Unite Executive Council, Regional and Branch Committees are held every three years.

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