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PCS delegates debate possible Unite merger

IMPASSIONED debate over the future of the PCS union is expected at its conference today as delegates discuss a possible merger with Unite.

More than 700 reps will vote on whether to give its union leaders a mandate to continue formal talks with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey about a link-up.

It could see over 260,000 PCS members, mostly working as civil servants, join Unite's existing million strong membership.

Conference will debate a motion this morning from PCS's national executive on the whether to continue the process.

If passed, it will see a special conference convened to discuss the terms of a merger before final plans are voted on by all members in a national ballot.

Members campaigning for and against a merger were busily pressing leaflets into the hands of delegates as they arrived at the Brighton Centre for the start of the union's national conference yesterday.

NEC member Ian Austin told the Star: "I hope that conference will support the idea of having talks with Unite.

"I think its the right thing to do to test out a huge opportunity."

The Department for Work and Pensions headquarters rep added though that "has got to be balanced against what's in the best interests of PCS members."

A motion proposing initial talks with Unite passed by a slim margin at last year's conference and the latest plans will spark a fiery debate.

Joining a union that is affiliated to the Labour party are among concerns being raised by civil servants who are officially politically nuetral.

A joint statement by lay member groups in both unions - PCS Democrats and Unite Now - states that there are "stong arguments for the creation of a new powerful public sector group."

In a message read out to conference from Mark Serwotka, who is recovering from heart surgery, the union leader urged members to "look cooly at the facts" and back continued talks.

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