Union mergers

Tackling the union bureaucracies

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 11:22

Bob Carnegie

Trade union organisation has always tended to centre in the better-off sections of the working class. But that tendency has been sharpened in the neoliberal era by increased inequality within the working class, and union organisation receding into more limited “bastions”.

In Australia — and in general — trade unions have been able to hold on to a degree in some strongholds, but in my working life, 45 years now, the influence of trade unions in society has markedly decreased.

Unions have become much more bureaucratic.

Most union leaders put the trends down to the anti-union laws which have been

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 27/02/2019 - 09:09

David Pendletone

Outsourced workers from four trade unions united for a day of action on Tuesday 26 February. Members of the IWGB at University of London, UVW at the Ministry of Justice, and PCS at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy all struck to demand better pay and conditions, and direct employment.

RMT London Transport Regional Council, which organises outsourced workers on London Underground, also supported the demonstration.

Guards' jobs: nail down the deal!

The breakthrough in the big railworkers’ dispute to save train guards’ jobs is a cause for celebration, but some caution

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/10/2017 - 11:55

Martin Thomas, Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens, Ralph Peters and Peggy Carter

Workers’ Liberty school workers met on 7 October 2017 to discuss our plans in our workplaces and in the new National Education Union, formed on 1 September by the merger of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. The new union is making a recruitment drive, offering membership free to trainees and students, for £1 to newly qualified teachers, and for £10 for the first year to all teachers and all school support staff. The response has been good, with twice as many new recruits to the NEU in September 2017 as there were to the NUT and ATL in September 2016.

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 26/04/2017 - 12:36

Gemma Short and Ollie Moore

On Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 April, National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) members at Forest Hill school in Lewisham struck for the fifth time in their on-going dispute against a management proposed restructuring to deal with a £1.3 million deficit. The management’s proposal sheds 15 teaching jobs, significantly increases teachers’ workload, radically reduces the depth of the creative aspects of the curriculum, ends any specialist English as an Additional Language (EAL) support, and massively diminishes the support for students with Special Educational Needs.

In addition to the strikes, there

New education union

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 14:27

A National Education Union (NEU) is likely to be formed by a merger of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). This merger is a step forwards for school workers organising.

Both the NUT and ATL held special conferences on Saturday 5 November to decide whether or not to ballot their members on the proposal to create a new union. The merger would create the largest school workers’ union in the country, organising 450,000 members. Although the majority will be teachers, the ATL also organises a number of support workers who would be included in the

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2016 - 13:04

Kelly Rogers, Dale Street, Darren Bedford, Ollie Moore and Gemma Short

On Saturday 14 May the BMA held a junior doctors′ conference, followed by a meeting of the junior doctors′ committee on the next day. It was hoped that these meetings would have heard the outcome of renewed negotiations held between the government and the BMA between 9-13 May. However a last minute agreement (brokered by Brendan Barber of all people!) to extend the talks for another week meant that junior doctors did not get a chance to give judgement on any proposed deal.

An announcement from the negotiations is expected on Wednesday 18 May; at the moment it is impossible to tell what the

Unite policy conference to debate Labour and Europe

Published on: Mon, 19/05/2014 - 15:23

No merger with the PCS this side of a General Election. And maybe never.

Although they do not put it as bluntly as this, that’s the substance of two of the motions submitted to the Unite Policy Conference being held in Liverpool late June and early July.

Merger with a union not affiliated to the Labour Party would be “a huge distraction” from winning the election for Labour. Mergers are a good thing only if the unions involved have “similar industrial interests”. Mergers are bad for Unite if its financial situation would be damaged by the pensions liabilities of the other union.


Trotsky on trade union unity

Published on: Sat, 14/01/2012 - 16:30

Leon Trotsky wrote an article for the US Militant in 1931 on ‘The Question of Trade Union Unity’. The article is attached.

The article is about the attitude of the French communist trade union federation (CGTU) towards the reformist trade union federation (CGT). Unlike in Britain, in several countries – including France – trade union federations have been (and still are) organised along political lines, rather than having one federation for all trade unions.

Trotsky argues against those communists who don’t want to dirty their hands by uniting with reformists – and his argument is therefore

RMT and TSSA to Merge?

Published on: Fri, 29/07/2011 - 21:07

A chance is presenting itself for a stronger trade union movement in the transport industry, with a possible RMT/TSSA merger.

This is a positive step. RMT has 80,000 members and TSSA 30,000. If we could one day also get ASLEF to join us in creating a single union, we could virtually write our own terms to management.

But as well as welcoming the prospects of merger, we need to shape how it will happen.
When unions merge, their leaders have a nasty habit of prioritising the preservation of their comforts and positions. Some mergers have seen the most bureaucratic aspects of each union brought

RMT and TSSA to Merge?

Published on: Tue, 19/07/2011 - 20:55

An opportunity is presenting itself for a stronger trade union movement in the transport industry to become a reality.

Rumours have been spreading for sometime now of a possible merger between the National Union for Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA).

The official line from the unions’ leaderships is that the TSSA voted at their Annual General Meeting to “look at merging with another union” although the RMT was not specifically mentioned.

As a consequence of their AGM’s decision, the TSSA has formally approached RMT, ASLEF, Nautilus International (ships officers’ union) and URTU (United Road Transport Union dedicated to HGV / LGV lorry and truck drivers) to discuss working more closely and a possible merger.

Chances for a TSSA merger are best (and probably a certainty) with RMT, possible with URTU, faint with Nautilus International and virtually non-existent with ASLEF whose elitism would not allow non-driver grades into their union.

The possibility of a merger with the TSSA was mentioned at the recent RMT Annual General Meeting at Fort William in Scotland. It seemed that the RMT leadership knew more than they were letting on to the delegates attending the AGM.

This merger is a positive step forward towards a stronger union in the workplace. RMT currently has around 80,000 members and TSSA has around 30,000. If we could one day also encourage ASLEF to join us in solidarity and in creating a single union in the workplace we could virtually write our own terms and conditions to management.

We need a stronger union to defend ourselves locally from Boris Johnson and the fatcats as well as a strong national strategy to defend our comrades in the private transport industry.

The McNulty reports states that rail workers are “overpaid” by 15%. It is an indication that the bosses and the government want to attack our pay, pensions, terms and conditions to feather their own nests and look after the shareholders.

The RMT AGM heard from International guests about how striking is illegal in their own countries. It is illegal to strike in New York except once every three years when staff contracts are up for renewal. Even then a one day strike results in the loss of three days pay.

Boris Johnson is determined to make tube strikes illegal under the guise of providing essential services. Once he has done this the unions will be powerless to fight for workers’ rights and management will do what they want.

If we are so essential then let the management treat us as such. Let them start treating staff fairly and stop the discrimination of union representatives.

Let’s all get ready for the day we have a single union and the bosses will have no other option but to take us seriously.


However, as well as welcoming the prospects of merger, we also need to try to shape *how* it will be done.

When unions merge, their leaders have a nasty habit of prioritising the preservation of their privileges and positions in the new, merged union. Some mergers have seen the most bureaucratic aspects of each union brought forward into the new union, with the more democratic parts conveniently dropped.

Instead of this, we need to fight for our new, merged union to be as democratic as possible, with the maximum rank-and-file power and the best feature of each union brought forward into the new union, and obsolete, bureaucratic structures left behind.

And we need our unions to be less secretive and more honest about this merger process. Members are already getting the distinct impression of the merger being cooked up behind closed doors, which does not bode well. We want up-to-date and detailed information on how it is progressing to members of all unions involved, including details of how we can have our say.

Finally, we should also remember that the point of merger (for the rank-and-file, anyway) is to make us more united and effective against the bosses. So let's building that fighting unity in the workplaces now - starting with our fight for a better pay deal and our ongoing battles against job cuts.

Trade Unions


Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 21/03/2012 - 08:15

Quite right. We need more openness about what is happening, and more rank-and-file involvement in the merger process. It seems that it has hit the rocks recently - it is in all our interests to get the merger talks up and running again, but this time with more transparency and wider discussion about the content.

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