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PCS members vote to continue Unite merger talks

A SUPER-UNION to fight austerity could be created after PCS members voted yesterday to continue merger talks with Unite.

After a heated marathon debate in Brighton delegates backed further negotiations with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

But members demanded that a political fund independent of the Labour party must be a red line in negotiations.

PCS president Janice Godrich told delegates a merger could “break the mould” in the trade union response to Con-Dem cuts to jobs and pay.

“We have a duty to see if the talks with Unite could produce proposals that would mean an even more effective, campaigning, fighting organisation that can really make a difference in the fight against austerity,” she said.

Liverpool delegate Lawrence Dunn added: “Any proposal that has sections of the right-wing press baying in protest must be worthy of proper consideration.”

The conference was reminded how PCS was formed in 1998 through the merger of the CPSA and PTC unions.

John Virtue was among the delegates who remained unconvinced, arguing that “politically there is nothing in this merger for us.”

There were gasps of surprise from some of the 700 delegates as the national executive’s motion for an open-ended negotiating position was defeated.

Delegates instead approved further talks which had clear “minimum conditions” on a deal that would stop union cash going to Labour coffers.

Civil servants voiced concern that joining Labour-affiliated Unite could put their political independence at risk.

A number of delegates also pointed out the last Labour government culled 100,000 civil servants.

East Midlands delegate Julie Webster said retaining the union’s independent political fund must be the “bottom line.”

She said: “I’m not opposed to a merger in principle but it depends on what basis the merger happens.”

Croydon delegate Michael Kavanagh tried to allay fears over Labour funding, arguing Lord Collins’s changes to union affiliation made a merger easier.

PCS will enter formal talks with Unite and if an agreement is reached it is likely a special PCS conference will decide whether to put the terms to a national ballot.

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