The attention of the Labour party might be focused on the general election campaign, but in the background, changes that will fundamentally restructure the Labour movement are in motion. Uncut has learned from PCS sources that the stalled merger with Unite is very much back on the agenda, and with it, Unite’s ultimate disaffiliation from Labour.
The merger ran into the sand following PCS’ conference last year when delegates rejected the leadership motion to continue unconditional negotiations with Unite. However, recent manoeuvres by the PCS leadership suggest that merger wheels are once again rolling.
PCS has been wracked by well documented financial problems. The sale of the union HQ, which was agreed at the union’s national executive meeting at the start of December, was meant to have placed PCS on a more sustainable financial footing. But just days later, an emergency executive meeting was called for the 18th December.
With one hour’s notice before the meeting, executive members were given papers that included a proposal to suspend next year’s internal election. The reasoning was that the £600,000 cost would sink the union and delaying it by upto year would help enable PCS’ survival. The motion was passed but with no wider debate across the membership.
PCS insiders have taken this as the clearest sign that merger plans are being revived.
Few believe their leadership’s explanation that this is about cost. Why wasn’t suspending the election discussed as an option along side sale of the HQ? What changed in the week following the scheduled NEC meeting in early December? Many view the emergency meeting as a means to railroad the suspension of internal democracy, which in turn allows the core leadership to fast-track negotiations with Unite, unencumbered by the accountability of elections in 2015.