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 forward into the new union, with the more democratic parts conveniently dropped. Instead, we need to fight for our merged union to be as democratic as possible, with maximum rank-and-file power and the best features of each union brought into the new union, and obsolete, bureaucratic structures dumped.
We need our unions to be less secretive and more honest about this merger process. We want up-to-date, detailed information on how it is progressing to members of all unions involved, including details of how we can have our say.
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.
Let’s be ready for the day we have one union and the bosses have no option but to take us seriously.