UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 10 September 2012

GMB and UNISON step out together

#tuc12 Yesterday’s eve-of-Congress press conference held by GMB and UNISON has attracted a lot of media interest. The most important announcement was a commitment to jointly organise in the poorly unionised and highly exploitative social care sector. Yet invariably speculation about a possible merger is making the headlines, with today’s FT exclaiming ‘two unions on path to merger’ and that ‘a merger between UNISON, with more than 1.3m members, and the GMB, with 610,000, would create the UK’s biggest union, larger than the 1.4m-member Unite. It would span local government, health, education and parts of the private sector’:

Across public services and in the private utilities the industrial and political potential of a merger between GMB and UNISON is enormous. A previous attempt in 2008 to cement closer working between the two unions stalled although a united approach in the Labour Party leadership election and the LGPS negotiations achieved positive outcomes. As in the successful formation of UNISON in the early nineties, the key test will be forging closer links between lay members at branch, regional and national levels.

There is an old Chinese proverb which says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. Let’s hope that step was taken on Sunday 9 September 2012.