PCS conference defeats its executive motion on merger with Unite

Dave Owens from DWP Liverpool moving motion A463 setting out conditions on any merger talksThe annual conference of civil service union PCS, after a lengthy debate described both as ‘heated‘ and ‘balanced‘, voted this morning to reject the motion from its executive on a merger between PCS and Unite, by 109,326 to 73,212 on a card vote. The conference did pass an emergency motion which, based on reports on Left Futures and elsewhere, criticised the apparent inconsistencies between information provided to PCS members and that to the Unite executive about the talks which have taken place, but approved continuing talks. These would, however, be subject to explicit conditions, including “ensuring a political fund independent of the Labour Party.

The PCS leadership insists that the talks will go on but since the Unite EC agreed only that “the transfer of engagements will be on the basis of our existing rule book“, and the PCS motion proposing initial talks with Unite passed only by a slim margin at last year’s conference, today’s decision must surely make the Unite takeover less likely. Continue reading

Is a Unite takeover of PCS desirable? Not if it divides the Labour movement

TUC day of actionDiscussions are, we hear, proceeding apace between Unite and civil service union, PCS, about what has until now been described within PCS as a merger but at the recent Unite executive (at which Len McCluskey got its backing for formal talks) was described as a “transfer of engagements“, aka “a takeover“. Many details remain to be discussed, but what has already been agreed is that, if it happens, PCS would in January 2015 become part of Unite, under the existing Unite rulebook, with its current Labour Party affiliation arrangements.

It is clear that both Len McCluskey and Mark Serwotka are personally very committed to it. As an active Unite member, I’ve been a strong supporter of Len McCluskey in both elections he has fought for General Secretary. I also admire Mark Serwotka, who is an excellent communicator, with progressive and non-sectarian politics, and who is clearly popular with a very large section of his members. But I’m unconvinced of the case for bringing the two unions together, for which there seems to be little industrial logic. Continue reading

Mark Serwotka backs Leanne Wood for Plaid leadership

Plaid’s Leanne Wood has received the backing of Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who called her “one of the most outstanding politicians in Wales.” Leanne Wood  has been a consistent supporter of picket lines and union rallies over the years in defence of pay and conditions for public sector workers and also chairs the cross-party PCS Group at the Welsh National Assembly. Continue reading

The Pensions dispute and the way forward for trade unions

The November 30 strikes saw unprecedented unity in the union movement but the speed of its collapse illustrates just how tenuous it was. Despite claims to have extracted significant concessions from the government, unions that sign up to the government’s offer are really guilty of selling short not only their members but millions more whose hopes for a decent pension depend on solidarity across the unions. This was evident when Danny Alexander triumphantly described the deals as delivering “the Government’s key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer.” Continue reading