Thursday, 3 April 2014

PCS: Uniting against a merger

There are a couple of weeks to go before the PCS National Executive Committee elections take place which will then lead into what could be the last ever PCS conference. The AWL dominated PCS Independent Left seem to think that we will be in a merged union by 1st January 2015. Possible I suppose, but the IL has yet to make its' various minds up yet:

That is what PCS leaders are hoping for. A motion setting out a plan for a members ballot and special conference this year will be put to ADC 2014. The aim will be a merger by the beginning of next year.

So should there be a link up with UNITE?

The Independent Left (IL) has yet to discuss whether we will back a merger but we can say that it doesn’t make sense in terms of industrial logic. We don’t have overlapping memberships (UNITE only has small numbers in the civil service) and we are not competitors for members in the same industries. Where Unite organise is generally separate from where we do. So it cannot be argued that a merger with Unite is a case of ‘one union in one industry’.

It certainly doesn't make much sense in terms of "industrial logic" but there are few unions that PCS could even consider a merger with as all the other civil service unions are much smaller than PCS. What would make some sort of sense if a merger was absolutely necessary to join up with Unison to create the largest public sector union to co-ordinate activities and campaigns as we at least have much in common.

I remain unconvinced of the need to merge and at the moment would be more concerned at looking at how PCS got into such a mess that it cannot continue to exist as an independent union.

For once I agree with the IL that the motivation is purely financial. For those that may have missed my earlier post here is the link to the article that brought the whole issue under scruitiny published in the Independent newspaper a few weeks ago:

The whole issue of a merger has led to the creation of at least two Face Book groups in the last few days.

The first I came across is simply called No to the PCS-Unite merger and states categorically:

Page for PCS members opposed to being consumed by the monolithic bureaucracy of Unite in the proposed merger of the two unions


The leadership of the PCS is driving the union towards a merger with Unite. This merger is not in the best interests of members:

• It will be a takeover rather than a merger, with PCS consumed whole
• It is an arrangement of financial convenience to preserve the perks of the paid union bureaucracy
• Unite is a vastly less democratic union than PCS on every possible level
• Unite is an FTO-dominated bureaucracy, whereas in PCS lay reps run their own branches and have a far greater degree of autonomy
• Unite is affiliated to the Labour Party, who are in turn wedded to capitalism, austerity and the boss class

Overwhelmingly, PCS members disagree with the concept of a merger or are at best indifferent to it. The possibility of a merger passed through conference in 2013 only thanks to a strong whip from the leadership and the Left Unity faction and we want to make sure that doesn't happen again with the merger proper.

With the exception of the ultra-left nonsense about the Labour Party I would go along with the rest of their statement. 

A second group is: Members against the merger. They have gone with a much simpler statement:

Quite straightforward really:

PCS are open to an approach from Unite with a view to merging.

This groups is for PCS members who want to stop it.

There you go.

At the moment it is a (very) small closed group, but its' early days all round at the moment.

Watch this space!

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