Faced with difficulties in signing up large layers of it's membership as check off ends in the two largest departments (DWP this month & HMRC in April) and facing competition from new unions like the RCTU and Unison, which now has negotiating rights in the civil service, the PCS leadership has kept it's options open.
Despite losing an initial policy motion at last years conference, delegates did agree to continue talks with "conditions" attached. However given the financial state PCS is likely to find itself in over the next year, especially now the sale of their major financial asset the headquarters building has been "put on hold" the impetus for a merger may be take on a new life.
However the proposed merger has caught the attention of Francis Maude who responded to a query about a possible merger with Labour affiliated Unite by Tory MP Charlie Elphick thus:
The perception of political impartiality in the civil service is fundamental to our system of government and that should not be imperilled in any way.
This indicates that a future Tory government, still possible given the perilous nature of the opinion polls, may act to prevent this.
Now as a former member of PCS and now in Prospect I do believe that the civil service should be independent of political parties and oppose the unions affiliating to any party. Concerns have been expressed about the involvement of individual leaders of PCS who are involved in extremist political organisations such as the Socialist Party (Militant) and the Socialist Workers Party being at the centre of the so-called Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition.
There is a difference between Individuals undertaking political activity which is covered by existing civil service rules and an entire apparatus consisting of (mainly) civil servants undertaking a role which would be orientated to one political party.
Certainly the PCS leadership will face new difficulties if the merger process goes ahead. A warning shot has been fired across their bows whether one agrees with Maude or not.
Problem is the PCS leadership are notoriously self destructive, with at least one TUSC activists claiming that several of the unions branches are helping in their campaign. The interests of PCS members (and those of other unions) would actually be better served by the return of a Labour government.
However the sectarians that control PCS seem to prefer the idea of another Tory government as it would suit their ideological interests better.
The fact members (of all unions) would suffer in the interim does not matter to these ideologues.
That's why PCS is