Posts Tagged ‘merger’

TSSA’s merger with Unite off

09/10/2013, 05:41:39 PM

Rumblings from within the union movement  – just four months after the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association (TSSA) conference in June overwhelmingly backed a merger with Unite, the wedding is officially off.

When contacted by Uncut earlier today, TSSA formally confirmed that talks had ended without agreement. The union executive will meet in a fortnight’s time to consider a detailed report on the matter and it seems some of the findings will be of interest across the union movement.

TSSA insiders have suggested the union walked away following Unite’s refusal to agree to Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA, becoming the head of a new stand alone rail division within Unite.

Although TSSA is a relatively small union with 23,000 members, it is asset rich, with £21m of assets according to the latest set of accounts filed in August this year, making it an extremely attractive merger target.

As a small, and comparatively wealthy union, TSSA officials wanted to ensure that its resources were safeguarded as part of the move into a larger union. Insiders suggest that without the current general secretary, or executive team, taking on a similar role in the new division within Unite, this would have been near impossible.

If it is the case that talks broke down over Unite’s refusal to countenance Manuel Cortes taking a lead role in the running of the new rail division, then several other union general secretaries of smaller unions, currently pondering merger with Unite, will think hard on their next steps. Merger is one thing, total assimilation another.

For TSSA, this is the second engagement to have been broken off. Between 2011 and 2012 the union was in detailed talks with Bob Crow’s RMT about a merger, but discussions broke down over TSSA’s desire to remain affiliated to the Labour party. The RMT were implacably opposed and talks floundered.

For Unite, this represents a set back to their plans to grow through merger. In April this year, in an interview with the New Statesman, Len McCluskey was clear about his approach saying, “I’m open to a merger in principle with every union…that is part of Unite’s strategy for growth.”

In the Labour party, and some of the other big unions, however, there will be quiet relief that the increasing concentration of union power in the hands of Len McCluskey has been halted, for the moment at least.

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