A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unite and PCS

Something in today's FT for those of us who are Labour supporters and Unite trade union members to plan our response to.

I can't quote it all as it's behind a pay wall, you'll need to buy the paper to read the whole article:

"Leftwing union leader eyes private sector

By Brian Groom and Jim Pickard

The union movement’s future lies in spreading militancy to the private sector, says the leftwing civil service leader who has rejected a pensions deal with the government.

The view of Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, matters because, if his union merges with Unite, he could within four years become leader of a super-union with nearly 1.8m members.

A merger between Unite, Britain’s largest union with 1.5m members mostly in the private sector, with 282,000-strong PCS would have serious implications. Unite is Labour’s biggest backer and Mr Serwotka, a non-member who has supported parties left of Labour, is one of the party’s biggest critics.

The unions are not yet in formal merger talks, but Mr Serwotka made clear in an interview with the Financial Times that he wanted to deepen the “ever closer developing relationship” the two have formed since signing a co-operation agreement a year ago.

In a merged union he would probably be deputy general secretary and leftwing candidate to succeed fellow militant Len McCluskey, Unite’s leader, who is 61.

“I never speculate on who might end up where,” said Mr Serwotka..."

... The PCS is considering running its own candidates in by-elections. Unite is Labour-affiliated while PCS is not, but Mr Serwotka saw that as no barrier to merger because they could maintain separate political funds. “We [the PCS] see no logic in paying millions of pounds to organisations that just don’t speak for you.” Affiliation was for members to decide but, he added: “Would I have a different view if I was somewhere else? No.”"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serwotka would be a disaster for any newly merged union. The only reason PCS want a merger is because under Serwotka's leadership, unlike most public sector unions, they have been losing members hand over fist for years.

12:02 am, January 14, 2012

Anonymous john problem said...

Yeah, well. The combined numbers will still only be half of the members of the National Trust. That's who they should be targetting, eh?

7:44 pm, January 14, 2012

Blogger Nicolas Redfern said...

As a Unite member, I certainly can't see us going for another merger anytime soon. The most recent one was bad enough.

2:34 pm, January 17, 2012

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who said PCS has been losing members 'hand over fist'- membership has actually grown as a % of the civil service since Serwotka took over. Civil Service numbers are falling, hence PCS has lower membership in numbers.

Whether this will be a success or not remains to be seen. However,if I was a member of Unite, I would be happy with the prospect of having somebody like Serwotka in a leadership role in the union. He is a fantastic advocate of his members and is not distracted by blind faith towards a political party that doesn't represent or stick up for his members.

3:36 pm, January 19, 2012


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