Labour Research November 2009

Union news

Public sector unions’ compact aims to boost organisation

Two of the largest predominantly public sector unions — civil service union PCS and health and local government union UNISON – have signed an agreement to help both unions boost membership and organisation.

Signed in the context of major attacks on the public sector, the Memorandum of Understanding is an attempt to ensure the squeeze does not lead to union infighting but to the strongest possible union organisation. It is based on the spirit of the TUC procedures for inter-union relations, and follows the same “spheres of influence” principles.

And it states that, “where there is no clear or agreed sphere of influence, the unions will agree a partnership approach [to] give the most effective industrial organisation possible for both unions’ membership.”

The Memorandum also sets out a co-operative approach to the potential transfer of members from one union to the other, if that is agreed by all concerned.

General secretary of the PCS, Mark Serwotka, said that given the challenges that workers in the public services face today, “it is only right that two of the largest public sector unions work together to protect their members’ interests.”